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S. G. & E. L. ELBERT 

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries 















With an Essay on her Genius, by Mrs. Sigourney 



BY REV WM, v ! . Oil. 






BY thomas moore. A new edition. 



BY thomas moore. A new edition, 






And Essay by Mrs. Sigourney. In seven volumes. Large type 
Beautifully printed. 

ANOTHER edition of 


In three volumes. — Large type. 







Second Series. 









In seven volumes. With illustrations. 










A new edition. 





With Notes — Critical and Explanatory. 



















The child is father of the man ; 
And I could wish his days to be 
Bound each to each by natural piety. 


Do you ask, then, what will educate your son ? Your example will educate 
him; your conversation; the business he sees you transact; the likings and 
dislikings you express,— these will educate him; the society you live in will 
educate him. — Mrs. Barbauld. 








Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1844, 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District 

of New York. 









STJf* Uoltime 



When I wrote the f Frugal Housewife,' 
some booksellers declined publishing it, on 
account of the great variety of cookery books 
already in the market. I was perfectly aware 
of this circumstance ; but among them all, I 
did not know of one suited to the wants of 
the middling class in our own country. I be- 
lieved such a book was needed ; and the sale 
of more than six thousand copies in one year 
has proved that I was right in my conjecture. 

If the same remark is made with regard to 
adding another to the numerous books on 
education, I nave the same answer to give — 
I do not know of one adapted to popular use 
in this country. 

I make no pretensions to great originality. 
The leading principles contained in this little 
volume have already been advanced in the 


standard works on education ; and I owe a 
great deal to frequent conversations with an 
intelligent and judicious mother. Perhaps 
some will think there is egotism and pre- 
sumption in the frequent repetition of 'I 
think, 5 and 'I believe,' and ' It is my opinion 5 
— but it must be remembered that this could 
not well be avoided in a work where famil- 
iarity and directness of expression were par- 
ticularly required. 

I have endeavored to give the result of 
my own reading and observation in maxims 
of plain practical good-sense, written with 
earnestness and simplicity of style. How 
far I have succeeded must be decided by 
my readers. 


I cannot offer a better or more appropriate introduction 
to this work, than an extract from Mr. Francis' Discourse 
on Errors in Education. 

* It is not easy to estimate the influence even of what 
may seem an inconsiderable effort, when directed to such 
an object as education. It has been said, that a stone 
thrown into the sea agitates more or less every drop in that 
vast expanse of waters. So it may be with the influence 
we exert on the minds and hearts of the young. Who 
can tell what may be the effects of a single good principle 
deeply fixed, a single pure and virtuous association strongly 
riveted, a single happy turn effectually given to the 
thoughts and affections ? It may spread a salutary and 
sacred influence over the whole life and through the whole 
mass of the character of the child. Nay, more, as the 
characters of others, who are to come after him, may, and 
probably will, depend much on his, the impulse we give 
may not cease in him who first received it : it may go 
down from one generation to another, widening and deep- 
ening its influences as it goes, reaching forth with various 


modifications, more or less direct, till the track of its agency 
shall be completely beyond human calculation.' 

1 We are told, that when Antipater demanded of the 
Lacedemonians fifty of their children as hostages, they 
replied that they would rather surrender fifty of the most 
eminent men in the state, whose principles were already 
formed, than children to whom the want of early instruc- 
tion would be a loss altogether irreparable. The Spartans 
were wise ; and shall Christians be less so ? Oh no ; — for 
we believe that our labor cannot perish even with life ; — 
we believe that, even if the inscrutable providence of God 
removes these objects of affection from us, neither the 
pleasure they have poured into our hearts, nor the good we 
have imparted to them will, or can, be lost.' 




On the Means of developing the Bodily Senses in earliest 
Infancy, 1 

Early Deyelopement of the Affections, 6 

Early Cultivation of Intellect, 10 

Management in Childhood, 22 

Amusements and Employments, 52 


Sunday. Religion. Views of Death. Supernatural Appear- 
ances, 64 


Advice concerning Books, 86 

List of Good Books for various Ages, 98 



Politeness, 109 

Beauty. Dress. Gentility, 122 

Management during the Teens, 130 

Views of Matrimony, 161 





Few people think that the management of very 
young babes has anything to do with their future dis- 
positions and characters ; yet I believe it has more in- 
fluence than can easily be calculated. One writer on 
education even ventures to say, that the heaviness of 
the Dutch and the vivacity of the French are owing to 
the different manner in which infants are treated in 
those two countries. 

The Dutch keep their children in a state of repose, 
always rocking, or jogging them ; the French are per- 
petually tossing them about, and showing them lively 
tricks. I think a medium between these two extremes 
would be the most favorable to a child's health and 

An infant is, for a while, totally ignorant of the use 
of the senses with which he is endowed. At first, he 
does not see objects ; and when he sees them, he 
does not know that he can touch them. ' He is obliged 
to serve an apprenticeship to the five senses,' and at 


every step he needs assistance in learning his trade. 
Any one can see that assistance tends to quicken the 
faculties, by observing how much faster a babe improves, 
when daily surrounded by little brothers and sisters. 

But in trying to excite an infant's attention, care 
should be taken not to confuse and distract him. His 
soul, like his body, is weak, and requires to have but 
little sustenance at a time, and to have it often. Gen- 
tleness, patience, and love, are almost everything in 
education ; especially to those helpless little creatures, 
who have just entered into a world where everything is 
new and strange to them. Gentleness is a sort of mild 
atmosphere ; and it enters into a child's soul, like the 
sunshine into the rose-bud, slowly but surely expanding 
it into beauty and vigor. 

All loud noises and violent motions should be avoid- 
ed. They pain an infant's senses, and distract his fac- 
ulties. I have seen impatient nurses thrust a glaring 
candle before the eyes of a fretful babe, or drum vio- 
lently on the table, or rock the cradle like an earth- 
quake. These things may stop a child's cries for a 
short time, because the pain they occasion his senses. 
draws his attention from the pain which first induct 
him to cry ; but they do not comfort or soothe him. As 
soon as he recovers from the distraction they have oc- 
casioned, he will probably cry again, and even louder 
than before. Besides the pain given to his mind, 
violent measures are dangerous to the bodily senses. 
Deafness and weakness of eye-sight may no doubt of- 
ten be attributed to such causes as I have mentioned ; 
and physicians are agreed that the dropsy on the brain 
is frequently produced by violent rocking. 


Unless a child's cries are occasioned by sharp bodily 
pain, they may usually be pacified by some pleasing 
object, such as stroking a kitten, or patting the dog ; 
and if their tears are really occasioned by acute pain, is 
it not cruel to add another suffering, by stunning them 
with noise, or blinding them with light? 

Attention should be early aroused by presenting at- 
tractive objects — things of bright and beautiful colors, 
but not glaring — and sounds pleasant and soft to the 
ear. When you have succeeded in attracting a babe's 
attention to any object, it is well to let him examine it 
just as long as he chooses. Every time he turns it over, 
drops it, and takes it up again, he adds something to 
the little stock of his scanty experience. When his 
powers of attention are wearied, he will soon enough 
show it by his actions. A multitude of new playthings, 
crowded upon him one after another, only serve to con- 
fuse him. He does not learn as much, because he does 
not have time to get acquainted with the properties of 
any one of them. Having had his little mind excited 
by a new object, he should be left in quiet, to toss, and 
turn, and jingle it, to his heart's content. If he look 
up in the midst of his play, a smile should be always 
ready for him, that he may feel protected and happy 
in the atmosphere of love. 

It is important that children, even when babes, should 
never be spectators of anger, or any evil passion. They 
come to us from heaven, with their little souls full of 
innocence and peace ; and, as far as possible, a mother's 
influence should not interfere with the influence of angel*. 

The first and most important thing, in order to effec: 
this is, that the mother should keep her own spirit in 


tranquillity and purity ; for it is beyond all doubt that 
the state of a mother affects her child. There are 
proofs that it is true, both with regard to mind and body. 
A mere babe will grieve and sob at the expression of 
distress on a mother's countenance ; he cannot possibly 
Jcnoiv what that expression means, but he feels that it 
is something painful — his mother's state affects him. 

Effects on the bodily constitution will be more readily 
believed than effects on the mind, because the most 
thoughtless can see the one, and they cannot see the 
other. Children have died in convulsions, in conse- 
quence of nursing a mother, while under the influence 
of violent passion or emotion ; and who can tell how 
much of moral evil may be traced to the states of mind 
indulged by a mother, while tending the precious little 
being, who receives everything from her ? 

Therefore the first rule, and the most important ol 
all, in education, is, that a mother govern her own feel 
ings, and keep her heart and conscience pure. 

The next most important thing appears to me to be, 
that a mother, as far as other duties will permit, take 
the entire care of her own child. I am aware that 
people of moderate fortune cannot attend exclusively to 
an infant. Other cares claim a share of attention, and 
sisters, or domestics, must be intrusted ; but where this 
must necessarily be the case, the infant should, as much 
as possible, feel its mother's guardianship. If in the 
same room, a smile, or a look of fondness, should now 
and then be bestowed upon him ; and if in an adjoining 
room, some of the endearing appellations to which he 
has been accustomed, should once in a while meet his 
ear. The knowledge that his natural protector and 


best friend is near, will give him a feeling of safety and 
protection alike conducive to his happiness and bene- 
ficial to his temper. 

You may say, perhaps, that a mother's instinct teaches 
fondness, and there is no need of urging that point ; but 
the difficulty is, mothers are sometimes fond by fits and 
starts — they follow impulse, not principle. Perhaps the 
cai;es of the world vex or discourage you — and you do 
not, as usual, smile upon your babe when he looks up 
earnestly in your face, — or you are a little impatient at 
his fretfulness. Those who know your inquietudes may 
easily excuse this ; but what does the innocent being 
before you know of care and trouble? And why 
should you distract his pure nature by the evils you 
have received from a vexatious world? It does you 
no good, and it injures him. 

Do you say it is impossible always to govern one's 
feelings? There is one method, a never-failing one — 
prayer. It consoles and strengthens the wounded heart, 
and tranquillizes the most stormy passions. You will say, 
perhaps, that you have not leisure to pray every time 
your temper is provoked, or your heart is grieved. — It 
requires no time — the inward ejaculation of ' Lord, help 
me to overcome this temptation,' may be made in any 
place and amid any employments; and if uttered in 
humble sincerity, the voice that said to the raging wa- 
ters, c Peace ! Be still !' will restore quiet to your trou- 
bled soul. 

As the first step in education, I have recommended 
gentle, but constant efforts to attract the attention, and 
improve the bodily senses. I would here suggest the 
importance of preserving the organs of those senses in 


full vigor. For instance, the cradle should be so placed 
that the face of the infant may be in shade. A 
stream of light is dangerous to his delicate organs of 
vision ; and if it be allowed to come in at one side, he 
may turn his eyes, in the effort to watch it. Glaring 
red curtains and brilliantly striped Venetian carpeting 
are bad things in a nursery, for similar reasons. 

I have said nothing concerning the physical wants of 
children, — their food, diseases, &lc, — because such sub- 
jects are not embraced in the design of the present work. 

The judicious and experienced are universally agreed 
that the best books for these purposes are, ' Dewees' 
Treatise upon Children,' and ' Advice to Young 
Mothers, By a Grandmother.' 



The cultivation of the affections comes next to the 
development of the bodily senses ; or rather they may 
be said to begin together, so early does the infant heart 
receive impressions. The uniform gentleness, to which 
I have before alluded, and the calm state of the mother's 
own feelings, have much to do with the affections of the 

Kindness toward animals is of great importance. 
Children should be encouraged in pitying their distress ; 


and if guilty of any violent treatment toward them, they 
should see that you are grieved and displeased at such 

Before showing any disapprobation of his conduct, 
however, it should be explained to a very young child 
when he really does hurt an animal ; for young children 
are often cruel from the mere thoughtlessness of frolic ; 
they strike an animal as they would strike a log of wood, 
without knowing that they occasion pain. 

I once saw a mother laugh very heartily at the dis- 
tressed face of a kitten, which a child of two years old 
was pulling backward by the tail. At last, the kitten, 
in self-defence, turned and scratched the boy. He 
screamed, and his mother ran to him, kissed the wound, 
and beat the poor kitten, saying all the time, 'Naughty 
kitten, to scratch John ! I'll beat her for scratching 
John ! There, ugly puss !' 

This little incident, trifling as it seems, no doubt had 
important effects on the character of the child ; espe- 
cially as a mother, who would do such a thing once, 
would be very likely to do it habitually. 

In the first place, the child was encouraged in cru- 
elty, by seeing that it gave his mother amusement. 
Had she explained to him that he was hurting the kit- 
ten, and expressed her pity by saying, ' Oh, don't hurt 
kitty — she is a good little puss — and she loves John' — 
what a different impression would have been made on 
his infant heart ! 

In the next place, the kitten was struck for defending 
herself; this was injustice to the injured animal, and a 
lesson of tyranny to the boy. In the third place, strik- 
ing the kitten because she had scratched him, was teach - 


ing him retaliation. For that reason, a chair or a foot- 
stool, against which he had accidentally hurt himself, 
should never be struck, or treated in an angry manner. 
You know, to be sure, that an inanimate object is not 
capable of feeling pain ; but your infant does not know 
it ; the influence upon him is, that it is right to injure 
when we are injured. 

It is a common opinion that a spirit of revenge is 
natural to children. No doubt bad temper, as well as 
other evils, moral and physical, are often hereditary — 
and here is a fresh reason for being good ourselves, if 
we would have our children good. But allowing that 
evil propensities are hereditary, and therefore born with 
children, how are they excited, and called into action i 

First, by the influences of the nursery — those early 
influences, which, beginning as they do with life itself, 
are easily mistaken for the operations of nature ; and 
in the second place, by the temptations of the world. 

Now T , if a child has ever so bad propensities, if the 
influences of the nursery be pure and holy, his evils 
will never be excited, or roused into action, until his 
understanding is enlightened, and his principles formed, 
so that he has pow T er to resist them. The temptations 
of the world will then do him no harm; he will i over- 
come evil with good.' 

But if, on the other hand, the influences of the nur- 
sery are bad, the weak passions of the child are 
strengthened before his understanding is made strong ; 
he gets into habits of evil before he is capable of per- 
ceiving that they are evil. Consequently, when he 
comes out into the world, he brings no armor against 
its temptations. Evil is within and without. And 


should the Lord finally bring him out of Egypt, it must 
be after a dark, and weary bondage. 

The mind of a child is not like that of a grown person, 
too full and too busy to observe everything ; it is a 
vessel empty and pure — always ready to receive, and 
always receiving. 

Every look, every movement, every expression, does 
something toward forming the character of the little 
heir to immortal life. 

Do you regard it as too much trouble thus to keep 
watch over yourself? Surely the indulgence of evil is 
no privilege : the yoke of goodness is far lighter and 
easier to bear, than the bondage of evil. Is not the 
restraint you impose upon yourself for the good of your 
child, blessed, doubly blessed, to your own soul ? Does 
not the little cherub in this way guide you to heaven, 
marking the pathway by the flowers he scatters as he 

The rule, then, for developing good affections in a 
child is, that he never be allowed to see or feel the in- 
fluence of bad passions, even in the most trifling things ; 
and in order to effect this, you must drive evil passions 
out of your own heart Nothing can be real that has 
not its home within us. The only sure way, as well 
as the easiest, to appear good, is to be good. 

It is not possible to indulge anger, or any other wrong 
feeling, and conceal it entirely. If not expressed in 
words, a child feels the baneful influence. Evil enters 
into his soul, as the imperceptible atmosphere he 
breathes enters into his lungs : and the beautiful little 
image of God is removed farther and farther from his 
home in heaven. 




The first effort of intellect is to associate the names; 
of objects with the sight of them. To assist a babe in 
this particular, when you direct his attention to any 
object, speak the name of the object, slowly and dis- 
tinctly. After a few times, he will know the thing by 
its name ; and if you say Dog, when the dog is not in 
the room, he will show that he knows what you mean y 
by looking round in search of him. 

By degrees, a few words can be added. He will 
soon learn to repeat, ' Good little dog ;' and though 
he may not have very exact ideas of what good means,* 
the tone of the voice, and the manner in which you 
speak, will make him think it is something pleasant. 
When you draw a child's attention to a living thing, it 
is well to accompany it with some endearment to the 
animal ; this will aw^aken his affections, as well as his 
thoughts. In teaching a child to talk, low, mild tones 
should be used 

Too much cannot be said on the importance of giving 
children early habits of observation. This must be 
dene by teaching them to pay attention to surrounding 
objects, and to inquire the why and wherefore of every- 
thing. No doubt many mothers will say, 'I cannot 
thus train the minds of my children ; for it is my mis- 
fortune not to have had an education myself.' This 
answer is very frequently given ; and if by education is 


meant book-learning, the excuse is indeed a poor one. 
Good judgment, kind feelings, and habitual command 
over one's own passions, are necessary in the education 
of children ; but learning is not necessary. The mother, 
who has had no other advantages than are furnished by 
a nublic school in a remote country village, knows a 
great many more things than a child of three or four 
years can possibly know. Early accustom your chil- 
dren to inquire about the things they handle. What if 
you cannot always answer them? You do them an 
immense deal of good by giving their minds active hab- 
its. If a spirit of inquiry is once aroused, it will, sooner 
or later, find means to satisfy itself; and thus the in- 
quisitive boy will become an energetic, capable man. 

I will give some familiar instances of what I mean. 
Generally speaking, when mothers have done superin- 
tending domestic concerns for the day, and have seated 
themselves, to * take some comfort,' as the phrase is, 
* with their children,' they spend the time in trotting them, 
or shaking the rattle, or dragging about the little cart, 
or repeating over and over again, ' pat a cake, pat a 
cake.' Now this is extremely well ; and should on no 
account be omitted. But something ought to be mixed 
with these plays to give the child habits of thought Toys 
amuse him for the time ; but he grows weary of them, 
and when he does not hear, or see them, they do not 
furnish anything for him to think about. But should 
you, while tossing a ball, stop and say, c This ball is 
round; this little tea-table is square. Now George 
knows what round and square mean,' — it would give 
him something to think about When he has a new 
toy, he will think to himself whether it is round or 


square. It is not well to tell him more than one thing 
at a time, or to enter into any detailed explanations. 
It is a bad thing to have infant attention wearied. It 
is enough for him to know that the ball is round and 
the table square. When he is older, you can explain to 
him that a square has always equal sides, and that the 
edge of a round thing is always equally distant from the 

Another day, should you show him your ball of yarn, 
and ask him if it be round or square, the chance is, he 
will answer correctly. If he does recollect w T hat you 
have told him, it will make his little heart very happy ; 
and should you reward his answer with a smile and a 
kiss, you will undoubtedly have done much to awaken 
his powers of observation. 

So much for the first step. — At another time, should 
you chance to be spinning a dollar, or a cent, for his 
amusement, you can, in the midst of the play, stop and 
say, ' This dollar is round, as well as the ball ; but the 
dollar is flat, and the ball is not flat. If George puts 
his hand on the dollar, he will feel that it is flat ; and if 
he puts his hand on the ball, he will feel that it is not 
flat. Now George knows what flat means.' Here I 
would remark, that if the child is impatient to have the 
dollar spinning, and does not love to hear about its 
form, it is unwise to cross his inclinations. We never 
remember so well what we do not love to hear ; and 
forced instruction is apt to injure the temper, and give 
an early aversion to knowledge.. 

We are apt to forget that things long familiar to us 
are entirely unknown to an infant. There is hardly 
anything connected with his little wants, which may not 


be made a pleasant medium of instruction. When eating 
a piece of bread, the following questions may be asked 
and answered. * What is bread made of?' ' I don't 
know ; what is it made of, mother ?' c It is made of 
grain ; sometimes of rye, sometimes of Indian meal, and 
sometimes of flour.' 'What is grain made of?' ' It 
grows in the field. The farmers plant it in the ground, 
and God causes it to grow.' 

When a child is playing with his kitten, it is easy to 
mix instruction with his enjoyment, by saying, c Feel 
pussy's fur — how smooth it is. Feel this piece of 
coral — how rough it is. Pussy's fur is smooth, and 
the coral is rough. Now George knows what smooth 
and rough mean.' 

As he grows older, the information given him may 
be of a higher character. He can be told, ' The andirons 
are made of brass. Brass is called a metal ; it is dug 
out of the earth.' At another time, he may be asked, 
'What is the cover of your book made of?' If he 
answer, 6 Of leather,' ask him what leather is made of. 
If he does not know, tell him it is made of a calf's skin 
Then ask him whether the cover of his book is a metal. 
If he say, fi No,' ask him what is the reason it is not. If 
he cannot answer, tell him, ' Because metals are always 
dug out of the earth. Leather is not dug out of the 
earth ; it is made of calf-skin ; therefore it is an animal 
substance, not a metal. Does George know what an 
animal is ? It is a creature that grows, and can move 
about from one place to another. Your kitten is an 
animal ; she grows bigger every day ; and she moves 
about. The brass andirons are not animals. They do 
not grow any larger, and they cannot move.' Afterward, 


when a proper opportunity occurs, ask him to tell you 
the difference between a metal and an animal. 

If he bring you a rose, you can say, ' Thank you ? 
George, for this rose. Now, can you tell me what it is? 
Is it a metal ?' ' No.' fc Is it an animal ?' ' I should 
think not, mother.' ' What is it, then ?' c I don't know.' 
6 1 will tell you. It is a vegetable. Vegetables grow 
out of the earth. They are not like metals, because 
they grow larger and larger; and they are not like 
animals, because they cannot move of themselves. 
What are you, George ?' c I am not a metal, for I 
grow bigger every day. I am not a vegetable, for I 
can walk. I think I am an animal/ ' Right, my dear 
son. Now you know the meaning of metals, animals, 
and vegetables.' 

Such conversations as these will make his thoughts 
busy ; and when he takes a book he will probably ask, 
1 What are the leaves of books made of?' ' They are 
made of paper.' 'What is paper made of?' i Of rags.' 
1 What are rags made of?' ' Sometimes of linen, and 
sometimes of cotton. Cotton grows in a pod, and linen 
is made from a plant called flax.' ' Then the leaves of 
my book are vegetable.' This discovery, simple as it 
is, will afford the boy great pleasure, and will make it 
more easy to exercise his powers of thought. 

I dare say the preceding hints will sound silly enough, 
to many mothers ; but they are nevertheless founded in 
reason and sound sense. It is a fact that children, thus 
early accustomed to observe, will have a wonderful 
power of amusing themselves. They will examine 
every figure in the carpet, and think to themselves 
whether it is round, or square ; and will sit, by the half 


hour, quietly watching the figures on copper-plate, or 

Arithmetic may very early be made a source of 
amusement ; for children can very soon learn to count 
sticks or marbles, and tell how many they should have 
left, if you should take away any given number. 

With regard to the kind of information conveyed, as 
well as the quantity, that should depend upon the child's 
age, intelligence, and progress ; things which no person 
can have an opportunity to observe and know, so well as a 
mother. The system of making use of all the common 
incidents of life to convey knowledge, and improve the 
heart, may be begun in the earliest childhood, and con- 
tinued even until youth ripens into manhood. I will 
give a simple instance : Quite a large boy, when sailing 
in a boat, may be asked to observe how the hills and 
the trees seem to move from him, while in fact the boat 
alone is moving. The simple fact may not be of much 
consequence to him ; for if he is a bright boy, he would 
have noticed it himself, without being asked to attend to 
it : but you can make it the means of illustrating another 
idea, by saying, ' Just so the sun seems to move round 
the earth ; but it does not move. The sun stands still, 
as the hills and trees do ; but the earth is moving all 
the time.' 

I am aware that these habits of inquiry are at times 
very troublesome ; for no one, however patient, can be 
always ready to answer the multitude of questions a 
child is disposed to ask. But it must be remembered 
that all good things are accompanied with inconven- 
iences. The care of children requires a great many 
sacrifices, and a great deal of self-denial ; but the woman, 


who is not willing to sacrifice a good deal in such ® 
cause, does not deserve to be a mother. Besides, the 
thoughtless, indolent parent, who is not willing to make 
sacrifices, and take trouble, does in fact have the most 
trouble ; for the evils she would not check at first, when 
it might easily have been done, afterward grow too 
strong for her management. 

But to return to the subject of asking questions. It 
is a spirit which should not be discouraged ; but at the 
same time, children should be taught that they cannot 
always be attended to. If you are otherwise occupied, 
and their inquiries distract you, think a moment, and 
collect yourself, lest you should answer pettishly. 

Do not say, ' How you plague me, Jane ! I wish 
you would go away, and keep still !' But say, ' I am 
very busy now, Jane. I cannot attend to you. If you 
will remember to ask me by and by, when I can at- 
tend to you, I will talk with you about it.' If the child 
persists, the answer should be, ' You know I always 
tell you what you ask, when I am not very busy. I 
cannot attend to you now ; and if you teaze me, I shall 
be very sorry ; for I shall be obliged to put you out of 
the room.' After this threat is once made, nothing 
should induce you to refrain from observing it. In 
order that your child may be easily satisfied with these 
kind, but firm refusals, when you are busy, you should 
try to bear in mind the question she has asked, and 
take the first leisure moment to reply to it. This will 
give her confidence in what you have said ; and she 
will know it was not done merely to put her off. 

Perhaps another difficulty may occur ; your children 
may ask questions that you do not know how to answer 


In that case, as in all others, the honest truth should 
be told The reply should be, 'I do not know. 
When father comes home, we will ask him • perhaps 
he can tell us.' If father does not know, the answer 
should be, c As soon as you have money enough, I 
will buy you a book, that will tell all about it :' and 
this, like all other things that are promised, should be 

If, as is often the case, a child asks an explanation, 
which would be altogether above his powers of com- 
prehension, the answer should be, ' If I were to tell 
you, you could not understand it now.' You must wait 
till you are older.' If your child has been early accus- 
tomed to the strictest regard to truth, he will believe 
what you say, and try to be satisfied. Some children, 
being too much praised for their quickness, or their wit, 
ask a number of useless, pert questions. This dispo- 
sition should be promptly and decidedly checked ; for 
it is the germ of vanity and affectation. To avoid 
exciting this evil in the mind of a bright child, a very 
intelligent question, or remark, should never be quoted 
as anything remarkable, nor should he be at all en- 
couraged to show off before company. The habit of 
reciting verses, and displaying other acquirements before 
strangers, seems to me the worst of all possible things 
for children. They should be taught to love knowledge 
for the sake of the good it will enable them to do others, 
not because they will gain praise by it. An inordinate 
love of reputation is always a powerful temptation to 
active minds ; and the more the evil is fostered in the 
nursery, the harder it is to overcome. Children should 
hear learning, and wealth, and all other external gifts, 


spoken of according to their true value — that is, theiF 
usefulness. They should be told, 'The more know- 
ledge you gain, the more useful you can be, when you 
become a man.' 

Perhaps you will say r that as your children grow 
older, they cannot help learning that a rose is a vege- 
table, the andirons a metal, &c. ; and you will ask what is 
the use of teaching it to them a few years earlier than 
they would naturally take to find it out of themselves. I 
readily allow that the knowledge itself is of very little 
consequence to them ; but the habits of attention and 
activity of mind, which you give them,, are worth every- 

If you take the trouble to observe, you will find those 
who are the most useful, and of course the most suc- 
cessful, in any department, are those who are in the 
habit of observing closely, and thinking about what 
they observe. 

Why is it that a botanist will see hundreds of plants 
jn a field, which the careless stroller may pass again and 
again without perceiving? It is because his attention 
vias been fixed upon plants. How is the great novelist 
enabled to give you such natural pictures of life and 
manners ? A close attention to all the varieties of hu- character, enables him to represent them as they 

You will find that a smart, notable housewife is al- 
ways an 'observing woman/ What constitutes the 
difference between a neat, faithful domestic, and a heed- 
less, sluttish one ? One pays attention to what she is 
about, and the other does not. The slut's hands may 
be very dirty, but she does not observe it ; every time 


she takes hold of the door, she may leave it covered 
with black prints, but she does not observe it. One ed- 
ucated to attend to things about her, would immediately 
see these defects and remedy them. 

We often hear it said, c Such a person has good sense, 
and good feelings ; but, somehow or other, he has no 
faculty.' The ' faculty ' that is wanting is nothing more 
or less than active habits of observation acquired in 
early life. 

Those who give their attention exclusively to one 
thing, become great in that one thing ; and will in all 
probability be careless and unobserving about every- 
thing else. This sort of character is not desirable ; for 
if it makes a man greater in one particular branch, it 
much impairs his general usefulness. In a woman it is 
peculiarly unfortunate; for, whether she be rich or 
poor, the sphere allotted her by Providence requires 
attention to many things. 

Literary women are not usually domestic ; not be- 
cause they cannot easily be so — but because they early 
acquired the habit of attending to literary things, and 
of neglecting others. It is not true that intellectual 
pursuits leave no time to attend tc the common con 
cerns of life. A fashionaole woman spends more time 
and thought about her dress, than the most learned wo- 
man spends about books. It is merely attention that is 
wanted to make the belle literary, and the leaned 
lady domestic. 

All the faculties of a child's mind should be cultivat- 
ed, and they should early acquire a power of varying 
their attention, so as to be able to bestow it easily upon 
any subject whatsoever. Some think it a sign of good 


sense to despise good taste ;' hence the universal com- 
plaint that scholars are awkward and slovenly. Un- 
questionably this is better than the silly pursuit of ever- 
varying fashion ; but there is no need of either extreme — 
extremes always lie on one side or the other of truth 
and nature. 

Some, seeing the disastrous effects of an over-heated 
imagination, think that any degree of imagination is in- 
consistent with good judgment. This is a mistake. — - 
The finest imagination may be kept perfectly in check 
by good sense, provided all the powers of the mind are 
equally cultivated in early life. A great writer has 
said, ' In forming the human character, we must not 
proceed as a statuary does in forming a statue, who 
works sometimes on the face, sometimes on the limbs, 
and sometimes on the folds of the drapery ; but we 
must proceed (and it certainly is in our power) as na- 
ture does in forming a flower, or any other of her pro- 
ductions ; she throws out altogether and at once the 
whole system of being, and the rudiments of all the 1 

To a woman, the power of changing attention is pe- 
culiarly valuable. I have said that an exclusive atten- 
tion to learning was a fault, as well as an exclusive at- 
tention to fashion ; but while I condemn the excessive 
love of books, I must insist that the power of finding 
enjoyment in reading is above all price, particularly to 
a woman. A full mind is a great safeguard to virtue 
and happiness in every situation of life. Multitudes of 
people do wrong from mere emptiness of mind, and 
want of occupation. 

Children should be early taught by example to lister* 


attentively to intelligent conversation, and should after- 
ward be encouraged in referring to it. This will occa- 
sion a thirst for information, which will lead to a love of 
reading. But while you try to encourage a love of 
books, remember to direct their attention to other things 
at the same time. For instance, show your daughter 
at which end you begin to grate a nutmeg, and explain 
to her that if you began at the end once fastened to the 
branch, it would grate full of holes ; because the fibres 
which held it together were fastened at that place, and 
being broken, they fall out. When sewing, you can 
call attention to the fact that sewing-silk splits much 
better for being first drawn through the wax ; and that 
a wristband is put on before the sleeve is sewed, be- 
cause it can be managed more conveniently. 

I mention these merely as familiar instances how the 
attention may be kept awake, and ready to devote it- 
self to little things, as well as great. If a girl feels in- 
terested in nothing but books, she will in all probability 
be useless, or nearly so, in all the relations dearest to a 
good woman's heart ; if, on the other hand, she gives 
all her attention to household matters, she will become 
a mere drudge, and will lose many valuable sources of 
enjoyment and usefulness. This may be said in favor 
of an over-earnest love of knowledge — a great mind 
can attend to little things, but a little mind cannot at- 
tend to great things. 

22 the mother's book. 



This phrase is a very broad and comprehensive one. 
Under it I mean to include all that relates to rewards 
and punishments, and the adaptation of education to 
different characters and dispositions. 

The good old fashioned maxim that ' example is bet- 
ter than precept,' is the best thing to begin with. The 
great difficulty in education is that we give rules instead 
of inspiring sentiments. The simple fact that your 
child never saw you angry, that your voice is always 
gentle, and the expression of your face always kind, 
is worth a thousand times more than all the rules you 
can give him about not beating his dog, pinching his 
brother, &c. It is in vain to load the understanding 
with rules, if the affections are not pure. In the first 
place, it is not possible to make rules enough to apply 
to all manner of cases ; and if it w T ere possible, a child 
would soon forget them. But if you inspire him with 
right feelings, they will govern his actions. All our 
thoughts and actions come from our affections ; if we 
love what is good, we shall think and do what is good. 
Children are not so much influenced by what we say 
and do in particular reference to them, as by the gene- 
ral effect of our characters and conversation. They 
are in a great degree creatures of imitation. If they 
see a mother fond of finery, they become fond of finery ; 
if they see her selfish* it makes them selfish ; if they 

the mother's book. 23 

see her extremely anxious for the attention of wealthy 
people, they learn to think wealth is the only good. 

Those whose early influence is what it should be, 
will find their children easy to manage, as they grow 

An infant's wants should be attended to without 
waiting for him to cry. At first, a babe cries merely 
from a sensation of suffering — because food, warmth, 
or other comforts necessary to his young existence, are 
withheld ; but when he finds crying is the only means of 
attracting attention, he soon gets in the habit of crying for 
everything. To avoid this, his wants should be attended 
to, whether he demand it or not. Food, sleep, and 
necessary comforts should be supplied to him at such 
times as the experience of his mother may dictate. If 
he has been sitting on the floor, playing quietly by 
himself a good while, take him up and amuse him, if 
you can spare time, without waiting for weariness to 
render him fretful. Who can blame a child for fretting 
and screaming, if experience has taught him that he 
cannot get his wants attended to in any other manner ? 

Young children should never be made to cry by 
plaguing them, for the sake of fun ; it makes them seri- 
ously unhappy for the time, and has an injurious effect 
upon their dispositions. When in any little trouble, 
they should be helped as quick as possible. When 
their feet are caught in the rounds of a chair, or their 
playthings entangled, or when any other of the thou- 
sand-and-one afflictions of baby-hood occur, it is an easy 
thing to teach them to wait by saying, ' Stop a minute, 
and I will come to you.' But do not say this, to put 
them off; attend to them as quick as your employments 

24 the mother's book. 

will permit; they will then wait patiently should an- 
other disaster occur. Children, who have entire confi- 
dence that the simple truth is always spoken to them, 
are rarely troublesome. 

A silent influence, which they do not perceive, is 
better for young children than direct rules and prohibi- 
tions. For instance, should a child be in ill humor, 
without any apparent cause, (as will sometimes happen) 
— should he push down his playthings, and then cry 
because he has injured them — chase the kitten, and 
then cry because she has run out of his reach — it is 
injurious to take any direct notice of it, by saying, ' How 
cross you are to-day, James ! What a naughty boy 
you are! I don't love you to-day. ' This, in all prob- 
ability, will make matters worse. The better way is 
to draw off his attention to pleasant thoughts by saying, 
4 1 am going in the garden ' — or, * I am going out to see 
the calf. Does James want to go with me?' If, in 
the capriciousness of his humor, he says he does not 
want to go, do not urge him : make preparations to go, 
and he will soon be inclined to follow. A few flowers, 
or a little pleasant talk about the calf, will, in all proba- 
bility, produce entire forgetfulness of his troubles. If 
the employment suggested to him combine usefulness 
with pleasure, — such as feeding the chickens, shelling 
peas for dinner, &lc, so much the better. The habit of 
assisting others, excites the benevolent affections, and 
lays the foundation of industry. 

When a little child has been playing, and perhaps 
quarrelling, out of doors, and comes in with his face all 
of a blaze, sobbing and crying, it is an excellent plan 
to take him by the hand and say, ' What is the matter, 

THE mother's book* 25 

my dear boy? Tell me what is the matter. But, 
how dirty your face is ! Let me wash your face nicely, 
and wipe it dry, and then you shall sit in my lap and 
tell me all about it. 5 If he is washed gently, the sen- 
sation will be pleasant and refreshing, and by the time 
the operation is finished, his attention will be drawn off 
from his vexations ; his temper will be cooled, as well 
as his face. Then seat him in your lap, encourage him 
to tell you all about his troubles, comb his hart gently 
in the mean time, and in a few minutes the vexation of 
his little spirit will be entirely soothed. This secret of 
calling off the attention by little kind offices is very val- 
uable to those who have the care of invalids, or young 
children. Bathing the hands and feet, or combing the 
hair gently, will sometimes put a sick person asleep 
when he can obtain rest in no other way. 

An experienced and very judicious mother told me 
that, in the course of twenty years' experience, she had 
never known washing the face and combing the hair, 
fail to soothe an angry and tired child. But then it 
must be done gently. The reason children frequently 
have an aversion to being washed is that they are taken 
hold of roughly, and rubbed very hard. If you occa- 
sion them pain by the operation, can you wonder they 
dread it? 

By such expedients as I have mentioned, ill-humor 
and discontent are driven away by the influence of kind- 
ness and cheerfulness ; c evil is overcome with good.' 
Whipping and scolding could not have produced quiet 
so soon ; and if they could, the child's temper would 
have been injured in the process. 

I have said that example and silent influence were 

26 the mother's book. 

better than direct rules and commands. Nevertheless, 
there are cases where rules must be made ; and children 
must be taught to obey implicitly. For instance, a child 
must be expressly forbidden to play with fire, to climb 
upon the tables, &lc But whenever it is possible, 
restraint should be invisible. 

The first and most important step in management is, 
that whatever a mother says, always must be done. 
For this* reason, do not require too much; and on no 
account allow your child to do at one time, what you 
have forbidden him at another. Sometimes when a 
woman feels easy and good-natured, and does not expect 
any company, she will allow her children to go to the 
table and take lumps of sugar ; but should visiters be 
in the room, or she out of humor w 7 ith the occurrences 
of the day, she will perhaps scold, or strike them, for 
the self-same trick. How can a mother expect obedi- 
ence to commands so selfish and capricious? What 
inferences will a child draw from such conduct ? You 
may smile at the idea that very young children draw 
inferences ; but it is a fact, that they do draw inferences 
— and very just ones too. We mistake, when we tjust 
too much to children's not thinking, or observing. They 
are shrewd reasoners in all cases where their little inter- 
ests are concerned. They know a mother's ruling pas- 
sion ; they soon discover her weak side, and learn how 
to attack it most successfully. I will relate a little an- 
ecdote, to show that children are acute observers of 
character. A wealthy lady, fond of dress and equipage, 
was the mother of a thoughtless little rogue. One day, 
he seized hold of a demijohn of wine, which a larger boy 
had placed upon the side-walk of a secluded alley, while 


lie joined his companions in play ; the little fellow per- 
sisted in striking the demijohn on the pavement, for his 
amusement He was repeatedly warned that he would 
break the bottle and spill the wine ; and at last this did 
bappen. His mother., being told of die mischief he had 
<so wantonly done, immediately paid for the wine, and 
ordered him to be undressed and put to bed. although it 
was then in the middle of the day. While this opera- 
tion was performed by the nursery maid, he said, 
14 Betsy, it is my private opinion, that I should have had 
a whipping if mother hadn't had her best gown on.'* 

To return to my subject. — -The necessity of obedi* 
ence early instilled is the foundation of all good manage- 
ment. If children see you governed by a real wish for 
their good, rather than by your own selfishness, or ca* 
pricious freaks, they will easily acquire this excellent 
habit. Wilful disobedience should never go unpunished. 
If a little child disobeys you from mere forgetfulness 
and frolic, it is best to take no notice of it ; for his inten* 
tion is not bad, and authority has greater effect when 
used sparingly, and on few occasions. Should he forget 
the same injunction again, look at him very seriously, 
and tell him that if he forgets it again, you shall be 
obliged to punish him. Should he commit the offence 
the third time, take from him the means of committing 
it ; for instance, if you tell him not to tear his picture- 
book, and he does tear it, take it away from him. Per- 
haps he will pout and show ill humor ; — will push off 
with his litde chair, and say, c l don't love you, mother.' 
• — If so, take no notice. Do not laugh, for that would 

* It is but justice to this boy to state ; that he was prompt in confessing 
his fault, and eager to atone for it, 


28 the mother's book. 

irritate him, without performing the least use ; do not 
seem offended with him, for that will awaken a love of 
power in his little mind. It excites very bad feelings 
in a child to see that he can vex a parent, and make 
her lose her self-command. In spite of his displeasure^ 
therefore, continue your employment tranquilly, as if 
nothing had happened. If his ill humor continue, how- 
ever, and show itself in annoyances to you, and others 
around him, you should take him by the hand, look 
very seriously in his face, and say, ' James, you are such 
a naughty boy, that I must punish you. I am very 
sorry to punish you ; but I must, that you may remem- 
ber to be good next time.' This should be done with 
perfect calmness, and a look of regret* When a child 
is punished in anger, he learns to consider it a species 
of revenge ; when he is punished in sorrow, he believes 
that it is done for his good. 

The punishment for such peevishness as I have men- 
tioned should be being tied in an arm-chair, or something 
of that simple nature. I do not approve of shutting the 
little offender in the closet. The sudden transition 
from light to darkness affects him with an undefined 
species of horror, even if he has been kept perfectly 
free from frightful stories. A very young child will be- 
come quite cold in a few minutes, at midsummer, if 
shut in a dark closet. 

If the culprit is obstinate, and tries to seem as if he 
did not care for his punishment, let him remain in con- 
finement till he gets very tired ; but in the meanwhile 
be perfectly calm yourself, and follow your usual occu- 
pations. You can judge by his actions, and the expres- 
sion of his countenance, whether his feelings begin to 

the mother's book. 29 

soften. Seize a favorable moment, and ask him if he is 
sorry he has been so naughty ; if he says, ' Yes/ let him 
throw himself into your arms, kiss him, and tell him 
you hope he will never be naughty again ; for if he is 
you must punish him, and it makes you very sorry to 
punish him. Here is the key to all good management : 
always punish a child for wilfully disobeying you in 
the most trifling particular; but never punish him in 

I once heard a lady very pertly say, ' Well, I should 
he ashamed of myself if I could punish a child when I 
was not angry. Anybody must be very hard-hearted 
that can do it.' Several of her* companions laughed at 
this speech; but for myself, I saw neither wit nor wis- 
dom in it. 

The woman who punishes her child because she is 
angry, acts from the selfish motive of indulging her own 
had passions ; she who punishes because it is necessary 
for the child's good, acts from a disinterested regard to 
his future happiness. 

As for the kind and degree of punishment, it should 
he varied according to the age and character of the 
child, and according to the nature of the offence. We 
must remember that very young children do not know 
what is right and wrong, until we explain it to them. 
A child should not be punished the first time he tears 
his picture-book, or cuts his gown.. He should be told 
that it is very naughty, and that he must not do it again. 
It is well to show the torn book to his father, and other 
members of the family, saying with a look of concern, 
' See how George has torn his picture-book 1 What a 
pity. I am so sorry.' This will impress the magnitude 


of the fault upon his mind, and he will not be so likely 
to forget it. 

But should he make a grieved lip, and appear dis- 
tressed at your conversation,, change the current of his- 
feelings by saying, • But I am sure he will never do 
such a naughty thing again. He is sorry tor it.' Hav- 
ing thus impressed his mind, do not recur to the subject 

The form of punishment should always be as mild as 
it can be and produce the desired effect. Being sent ta 
bed in the middle of the day is a great privation ; and it 
does not excite bad feelings so much as some other 
forms of punishment. Small children may be tied in 
an arm-chair, sent out of the room and forbidden ta 
return, put to bed without supper, &c. Eating dinner 
separate from the family, or not being allowed to kiss 
father and mother, is a grievous penance to children of 
sensibility. Privation of any expected pleasure usually 
makes a deep impression. 

Where it is possible, it is a good plan to make the 
punishment similar to the offence. If a child is quar- 
relsome, or mischievous, among his companions, make 
him play in a room by himself. If he is studying 
with others, and chooses to be very disobliging, or 
annoying, send him to another room to study alone ; 
or, if this is not convenient, make him sit at a table by 
himself, and allow no one to speak to him during the 
evening. His offences having been anti-social, his pun- 
ishment should be so likewise. Being deprived of social 
intercourse will teach him its value. 

If a child abuse any good thing, it is well to 
take it from him, and make him feel the want of it. 


Thus if he abuse your confidence, do not trust him 
again for some time. But if he is really repentant, re- 
store it to him ; and when you do trust him, trust him 
entirely. Allusions to former faults have a dishearten- 
ing effect, particularly on sensitive, affectionate children. 

Above all things, never suffer a child to be accused 
of a fault, until you are perfectly sure he has been guilty 
of it. If he is innocent, the idea that you could think 
him capable of wickedness will distress him, and will in 
some degree weaken the strength of his virtue. I would 
rather lose the Pitt diamond, if it were mine, than let 
an innocent child know he had been for one moment 
suspected of stealing it. The conscious dignity of in- 
tegrity should always be respected. 

While speaking of punishments, I would suggest one 
caution. Never undertake to make a child do a thing 
unless you are very sure you can make him do it. 
One instance of successful resistance to parental author- 
ity will undo the effects of a year's obedience. If a boy 
is too bad to be governed by any other means than flog- 
ging, and is too strong for you, do not attempt to man- 
age him : tell his father, or his guardians, of his disobe- 
dience, and request them to punish him. 

Fear should on no occasion be used as a preventive, 
or a punishment. If children want anything improper 
for them to have, do not tell them it will bite them. It 
is not true ; and the smallest child will soon learn by 
experience that it is not true. This will teach him to 
disbelieve you, when you really do tell the truth, and 
will soon make a liar of him. Care should be taken not 
to inspire a terror of animals, such as beetles, mice, spiders, 
&c. Fortunately we have no venomous creatures in 

32 the mother's book. 

New-England, which are likely to infest the mirseryv 
As for spiders, they are quite as likely to bite a child 
who is afraid of them, as one who is not ; and if such a 
thing should happen, a little swelling, and a few hours ? 
pain, are not half as bad as fear, that troubles one all 
his life long. Children would never have fear of 
animals, unless it were put into their heads. A little 
girl of my acquaintance once came running in with a 
striped snake, exclaiming ' Oh, what a beautiful creature 
I have found P Her mother acknowledged that she 
shuddered, because she had herself been taught to fear 
snakes ; but she knew the creature would not hurt her 
daughter, and she would not allow herself to express 
any horror ; she merely advised her to set the animal 
at liberty. 

Not to kill any animal, seems to me an excess of a< 
good thing. The vermin that infest our houses and 
gardens must be destroyed, and children must see them 
destroyed. But it should always be done with express- 
ed regret, and as mercifully as possible. The expla- 
nation that we kill them to prevent the evil they would 
do, is very good, and very satisfactory. But the fact is, 
there are very few creatures in this climate which do us 
harm ; more than half our aversions to animals are mere 

However, it is not evils whieh can be seen, met, and 
understood, that usually frighten children. A child is 
told that fire will burn him if he touches it, and if he 
has been accustomed to the truth, he believes it ; but 
he will stay in the room where there is a fire without 
fear ; for he knows by experience, that the fire cannot 
come to him. But they are frightened with mysterious 

the mother's book. 33 

ideas of something in the dark — with stories of old men 
prowling about to steal them — rats and mice that will 
come and bite them, when they are shut up in the 
closet, &c. 

I cannot find language strong enough to express what 
a woman deserves, who embitters the whole existence 
of her offspring by filling their minds with such terrific 
images. She who can tell a frightful story to her child, 
or allow one to be told, ought to have a guardian ap- 
pointed over herself. 

Let us examine what the motives must be, that lead 
to such measures. It is indolence — pure indolence ; 
a mother is not willing to take the pains, and practise 
the self-denial, which firm and gentle management 
requires ; she therefore terrifies her child into obedience. 
She implants in his mind a principle that will, in all 
probability, make him more or less wretched through 
his whole life, merely to save herself a few moments' 
trouble ! Very strong minds may overcome, or nearly 
overcome, early impressions of this kind ; but in cases 
of weak nerves, or acute natural sensibility, it is utterly 
impossible to calculate the extent of the evil. And all 
this to save a little trouble ! What selfishness ! 

However, Divine Providence has so ordered it, that 
whatever is wrong, is really bad policy, as well as bad 
morality, ' Lazy people must take the most pains ' in 
the end. Fill your children with fears to make them 
obedient, and those very fears become your tyrants. 
They cannot go into the dark without you ; and you must 
sit by their bedside till sleep relieves them from terror. 
All this is the consequence of avoiding a little trouble 
in the beginning. Is it not a dear price for the whistle ? 

34 the mother's book. 

The management of children should vary according 
to their character. A very active mind, full of restless 
curiosity, does not need to be excited ; but a feeble or 
sluggish character should be aroused, as much as possi- 
ble, by external means. For instance, if there is any 
wonderful sight to be seen in the neighborhood, such as 
a caravan of animals, a striking picture, wonderful mech- 
anism, &x., and if it be inconvenient for you to take 
more than one of the children under your care, let the 
treat be given to the one whose character most needs to 
be aroused. Of course, I do not mean that lazy chil- 
dren should be entertained, in preference to industrious 
ones ; I mean where there is a pre-disposition to dul- 
ness, owing to early disease, an afflicted state of !*is 
mother's mind before his birth, or while nursing him, 
&lc ; — in such cases, the thoughts and affections should 
be excited with an extraordinary degree of care. A 
timid child should be encouraged more than a bold and 
confident one ; and if necessary to punish him, means 
should be used as little likely to break his spirit as pos- 
sible. A boy whose perceptions are slow, and who 
learns with labor and difficulty, should be indulged in 
reading a new book, or attending to a new branch of 
study, which particularly interests him ; but a boy of 
quick perceptions, and ready memory, should be kept 
at one thing as long as possible. Such different char- 
acters are in danger of totally different defects. One 
is in danger of never getting his mind interested in 
knowledge, and the other of getting so much interested 
in everything, that he will learn nothing well ; there- 
fore they should be managed in a manner entirely 

the mother's book. 35 

The same rule holds good with regard to the affec- 
tions : cultivate most those faculties and good feelings, 
which appear to be of the slowest growth. If a love 
of power early develope itself in one member of your 
family with more strength than in the others, subject 
that child to more restraint than you do the others. 
But in checking him, do not yourself act from a love 
of power : explain to him, at every step, that you gov- 
ern him thus strictly, only to assist him in overcoming 
a great evil. If you really act from this motive, your 
child will perceive it to be true, and will respect you. 

There is such an immense variety in human charac- 
ter, that it is impossible to give rules adapted to all 
cases. The above hints will explain my general 
meaning ; and observation and experience will enable a 
judicious mother to apply them with wisdom and kind- 
ness. I will merely add to what I have said, the old 
proverb, that ' An ounce of prevention is worth a pound 
of cure.' — If a child has any evil particularly strong, it 
is far better to avoid exciting it, than to punish it when 
it is excited. Whatever may be the consequences of 
evil, it always gains fresh power over us by every in- 
stance of indulgence. As much as possible, keep a 
young child out of the way of temptation which it is 
peculiarly hard for him to resist ; and by reading, by 
conversation, by caresses, make him in love with the 
opposite good; when once his feelings are right on the 
subject, temptation will do him good instead of harm. 

When a child is to be punished, he should always be 
told calmly, ' I am obliged to do this for your good. If 
I do not punish you, you will not remember next time. 
You have promised two or three times to do as I bade 

36 the mother's book. 

you, but you always forget it ; now I must make you 
suffer a little, that you may remember it.' 

A very young child can understand and appreciate 
this management. I knew a girl of five years old, who 
had the habit of biting her nails so close, that her fin- 
gers were perpetually inflamed. Her mother had tried 
arguments, and various privations, without producing 
much effect. One day, the child, as usual, put her fin- 
gers to her mouth, to bite her nails ; but suddenly 
withdrawing them, she came up to her mother's writing 
table, and said, 6 Mother, slap my hand smartly w r ith 
your ruler every time I bite my nails, and then I shall 
remember.' Her mother did as she was desired, say- 
ing, ' I hope you will remember now, and that I shall 
never have to do this again.' The girl winced a little, 
— for her mother did slap her smartly, though but a 
very few times ; but she seemed perfectly satisfied, and 
said, 'I think that will make me remember it.' For 
several days afterward, if she moved her fingers to her 
mouth, she would look at the writing table and smile ; 
and if her mother perceived her, she would hold up 
her finger in a cautioning manner, and smile also. All 
this was done in perfect good-nature on both sides. 
After a while she forgot herself, and bit her nails again ; 
her mother was not in the room 5 but she went, of her 
own accord, and avowed the fact, saying, ' Mother, give 
me a few more slaps than you did before ; and see if 
that will make me remember it any longer.' After 
that, she never needed correction for the same fault 
This little girl understood the real use of punishment ; 
she did not look upon it as a sign of anger, but as a 
means of helping her to overcome what was wrong. 

the mother's book. 37 

Mere fear of suffering never makes people really 
better. It makes them conceal what is evil, but it does 
not make them conquer it. They must be taught to 
dislike what is wrong merely because it* is wrong, and 
to look upon punishment as a means to help them to 
get rid of it. Does sickness, and misery, and ruin de- 
ter the vicious from the commission of sin? Is not 
theft indulged at the very foot of the gallows? If a 
man do not hate what is wrong, the mere fear of conse- 
quences will never cleanse his heart, though it may reg- 
ulate his outward behavior; and what will mere out- 
ward goodness avail him in another world, where there 
is no possibility of concealment, or hypocrisy ? What the 
child is, the man will probably be ; therefore never make 
the avoidance of punishment a reason for avoiding sin. 

Having mentioned that a mother slapped her little 
girl smartly, I shall very naturally be asked if I approve 
of whipping. I certainly do not approve of its very fre- 
quent use 5 still I am not prepared to say that it is not 
the best punishment for some dispositions, and in some 
particular cases. I do not believe that most children, 
properly brought up from the very cradle, would need 
whipping ; but children are not often thus brought up ; 
and you may have those placed under your care in 
whom evil feelings have become very strong. I think 
whipping should be resorted to only when the same 
wrong thing has been done over and over again, and 
when gentler punishments have failed. A few smart 
slaps sometimes do good when nothing else will; but 
particular care should be taken not to correct in anger. 

Punishments which make a child ashamed should be 
lavoided. A sense of degradation is not healthy for the 

38 the mother's book* 

character. It is a very bad plan for children to be 
brought into a room before strangers with a foolscap, 
or some bad name, fastened upon them. Indeed, I 
think strangers* should have as little as possible to do 
with the education of children ; to be either praised, or 
mortified, before company, makes us care too much 
about the opinion of others. I do not mean to incul- 
cate a defiance of public opinion ; such contempt springs 
from no good feeling, and like all wrong things, is nei- 
ther becoming, nor expedient. The approbation of 
others does make us happy, and there is no reason why 
it should not ; but when we do right because people 
will approve of it, we begin at the wrong end. If we 
follow conscientiously what we perceive to be good, we 
shall be certain never to be misled ; but if we do what 
others think right, we shall follow a very uncertain 
guide, and pollute the best of actions with a wrong 
motive. Nay, worse than all, we shall gradually lose 
the perception of what is right ; and if folly and sin are 
the fashion, we shall first feel that they are fascinating, 
and then begin to reason openly (when we dare) that 
there is no harm in them. 

Nothing is a safe guide but the honest convictions of 
our own hearts. A good man will always be respected ; 
but he cannot be really good because he shall be 
respected for it. Indeed those who have been taught 
no holier motive than that of gaining the good opinion 
of others, rarely succeed in permanently keeping what 
they covet so much. The heart is not right ; and 
however clean they may try to keep the outside, at 
some unlucky moment hypocrisy will fail them, anc| 
their real character will peep through. 

the mother's book. 39 

You may tell a cross, discontented looking woman 
that the world would like her face a great deal better, 
if it were cheerful and benevolent \ but how is she to 
alter the expression of her face ? The mere selfish 
wish to be pleasing will not enable her to do it. She 
must begin with her heart, and religiously drive from 
thence all unkind and discontented feelings. 

What a change would take place in the world if men 
were always governed by internal principle ! If they 
would make pure the hidden fountain, the light might 
shine upon the wandering stream, and find it clear and 
stainless in all its windings ! 

I have heard parents say to children, * If you don't get 
your lessons better, you will grow up a dunce, and every- 
body will laugh at you.' The thing to which they are 
urged is good, but the motive is wrong. If young 
people are taught to regulate their actions by a dread 
of the world's laugh, they will be full as likely to be 
deterred from good, as from evil. It would be much 
better to say, ' If you grow up in ignorance, you cannot 
do half as much good in the world, as you can if you 
gain all the knowledge in your power. Now, while you 
are young, is the best time to fit yourself for being useful.' 

I once heard a boy say, ' Well, mother, I got a grand 
ride to-day. Last week I told a man one of his wagon 
wheels was coming off; and when I was walking home 
from school to-day, the same man overtook me, and 
asked me to get in and ride. You always told me, 
if I helped others, they would help me? This is a 
common case. Parents are in the habit of telling chil- 
dren, ' If you will be good, you will lose nothing ly it? 
This is poisoning tro act in the motive. It is not true 


that we always meet a return for kindness and generos- 
ity ; they who expect it will be disappointed ; and not 
being accustomed to act from any better motive, they 
will cease to be benevolent, except when they are sure 
of reward. We should look for the recompense of 
goodness in our own hearts ; there we shall certainly 
find it. The reward is in keeping the commandments, 
not for keeping them. 

Children should be induced to kindness by such mo- 
tives as the following : ' God is very good to us, and 
ought we not to be so to others ? The Bible tells us 
to do to others as we would be done by ; and you know 
very well how pleasant it is when you are in trouble to 
have other people pity you and help you. When you 
do good to others, does it not make you very happy ?' 

People sometimes double a boy's lesson because he 
has not behaved well. This is a very bad plan. If 
his book is used as a punishment, how can you expect 
him to love it ? For the same reason, never tell a child 
he shall stay at home from school if he is good ; this 
gives him the idea that going to school is a task. On 
the contrary, make all his associations with school as 
pleasant as possible. Speak of the kindness of the 
instructer in taking so much pains to teach him ; en- 
courage him in telling you about what he has learned ; 
show pleasure at the progress he makes ; and tell him 
how useful he will be when he is a man, if he continues 
so industrious and persevering. 

Never offer money as a reward for doing right. 
Money and praise become necessary if once habituated 
to them ; so much so, that it is impossible to act without 
some selfish excitement. Money is the worst stimulus 


of the two ; for avarice is more contemptible and inju- 
rious in its effects than a too earnest desire for the good 
opinion of others. 

At the same time guard against wastefulness and 
prodigality. Teach children to be very economical — 
never to cut up good pieces of calico, or paper, for no 
purpose — never to tear old picture-books, destroy old 
playthings, burn twine, or spend every cent they receive 
for cake and sugar-plums. But as a reason for not 
destroying, tell them these things will come in use. 
Encourage them in laying up money to buy an orange 
for a sick neighbor, a pair of shoes for a poor boy, or a 
present to surprise his sister on her birth-day — anything, 
— no matter what, — that is not for himself alone. He 
will thus learn the value of money, without becoming 
selfish. To avoid the danger of engrafting avarice upon 
habits of care, earnestly encourage children to be generous 
in giving and lending to each other ; and show peculiar 
delight when they voluntarily share anything of which 
they are particularly fond. If a child has in any way 
acquired a tendency to parsimony, take extraordinary 
pains to make him feel happy when he has been 
generous. Praise him even more than you would think 
safe under any other circumstances ; for it is always 
prudent to assist a child most in those points where he 
is the weakest. To be sure, your approbation is not 
the best motive he might have ; but it is better than the 
hope of public applause ; and moreover it is the best 
motive from which he can act, until he gets rid of his 
bad habit. Help him to overcome the obstacle which 
habit has thrown in his way, and he will gradually learn 
to love generosity for its own sake. 

42 the mother's book. 

Habits of carelessness, such as leaving things lying 
about, blotting books, reciting in a jumbled manner, or 
jumping hastily at incorrect conclusions, &lc, should be 
resolutely and promptly checked. Defects of this sort 
are the origin of numerous evils. Many a failure in 
business, many a disordered household, may be traced 
to the indulgence of these habits in early life. I speak 
feelingly on this subject ; for years of self-education 
have hardly yet enabled me to cure the evil. I have 
made mistakes both in conversation and writing, concern- 
ing things which I knew perfectly well, merely from an 
early habit of heedlessness. It is has cost me much mor- 
tification and many tears ; punishments which certainly 
have improved my habits, and may in time cure 

No single instance of carelessness should be over- 
looked. If a little girl cannot find her gloves, or her 
bonnet, when you are about to take a walk, oblige her 
to stay at home. Let no tears and entreaties induce 
you to excuse it. I dare say, it may sometimes be pain- 
ful to you to pursue this course ; but for your child's 
sake, have resolution enough to do it. 

If a boy loses his book, and cannot therefore get his 
lesson at the usual time, see that he is deprived of his 
play-hours in order to learn it. If he habitually forgets 
his book, send him back to the school-house for it, even 
if it be cold weather, and a great distance. 

If a girl is always losing her thimble, do not lend 
her one ; let her hurt her finger a little by sewing with- 
out one. These small cruelties in the beginning will 
save a great deal of future suffering. In order to leave 
no excuse for carelessness, children should be provided 

the mother's book. 43 

with a proper place for everything, and taught always 
to put it there, as soon as they have done using it. 

Perhaps there is no evil into which children so easily 
and so universally fall as that of lying. 

The temptation to it is strong, and therefore the en- 
couragement to veracity should be proportionably strong. 
If a child breaks anything and honestly avows it, do not 
be angry with him. If candor procures a scolding, 
besides the strong effort it naturally costs, depend upon 
it, he will soon be discouraged. In such cases, do not 
speak till you can control yourself— say, ' I am glad you 
told me. It was a very valuable article, and I am truly 
sorry it is broken ; but it would have grieved me much 
more to have had my son deceive me.' And having 
said this, do not reproachfully allude to the accident 
afterward. I was about to say that children should 
never be punished for what was honestly avowed ; but 
perhaps there may be some cases where they will do 
again and again what they know to be wrong, from the 
idea that an avowal will excuse them ; in this case, they 
tell the truth from policy, not from conscience ; and 
they should be reasoned with, and punished. How- 
ever, it is the safe side to forgive a good deal, rather 
than run any risk of fostering habits of deception. 
Should you at any time discover your child in a lie, 
treat it with great solemnity. Let him see that it 
grieves you, and strikes you with horror, as the worst 
of all possible faults. Do not restore him to your confi- 
dence and affection, until you see his heart is really 
touched by repentance. If falsehood becomes a habit 
with him, do not tempt him to make up stories, by ask- 
ing him to detail all the circumstances connected with 

44 the mother's book. 

the affair he has denied. Listen coldly to what he 
says, and let him see by your manner, that you do not 
ask him questions, because you have not the least con- 
fidence in his telling the truth. But remember to en- 
courage, as well as discourage. Impress upon his mind 
that God will help him to get rid of the evil whenever 
he really wishes to get rid of it ; and that every temp- 
tation he overcomes will make the next one more easy. 
Receive any evidence of his truth and integrity with de- 
light and affection ; let him see that your heart is full of 
joy that he has gained one victory over so great a fault. 

Let your family never hear trifling deceptions glossed 
over by any excuses ; speak of them with unlimited 
abhorrence and contempt. 

Above all things, let your own habits be of the strict- 
est truth. Examine closely ! You will be surprised to 
find in how many little things we all act insincerely. I 
have at this moment in my memory a friend, who prob- 
ably would be very indignant to be told she did not 
speak the truth ; and I dare say, on all that she deemed 
important occasions, she might be relied on ; yet she 
did deceive her children. True, she thought it was 
for their good ; but that was a mistake of hers; decep- 
tion never produces good. I one evening saw her re- 
move a plate of plum-cake from the tea-table to the 
closet. Her youngest daughter asked for a piece ; the 
reply was, 'It is all gone. — Puss came and ate it up ;' 
at the same time the mother winked to a little girl, two 
or three years older, not to tell that she had seen her 
put it in the closet. There is an old proverb about kill- 
ing two birds with one stone — here two daughters were 
lured by one lie. The youngest was deceived, and 

the mother's book. 45 

the oldest was taught to participate in the deception. 
Mere experience would soon teach the little girl that the 
cat did not eat the cake ; and having found that her 
mother would lie, she would in all probability dispute 
her even when she spoke the truth. And after all, 
what use is there in resorting to such degrading expedi- 
ents ? Why not tell the child, 6 The plum-cake is in 
the closet ; but it is not good for you at night, and I 
shall not give you a piece until morning ¥ If she had 
been properly educated, this would have satisfied her ; 
and if she chose to be troublesome, being put to bed 
without her supper would teach her a lesson for the 

A respect for the property of others must be taught 
children; for until they are instructed, they have very 
loose ideas upon the subject. A family of children 
cannot be too much urged and encouraged to be gener- 
ous in lending and giving to each other ; but they 
should be taught a scrupulous regard for each other's 
property. They should never use each other's things, 
without first asking, 5 Brother, may I have your sled ?' 
' Sister, may I have your book ?' &c. They should be 
taught to put them carefully in place, when they have 
done using them ; and should be impressed with the 
idea that it is a greater fault to injure another's property, 
than to be careless of our own. If any little barter has 
been made, and a dispute afterwards arises, hear both 
sides with perfect impartiality, and allow no departure 
from what was promised in the bargain. From such 
little things as these, children receive their first ideas of 
honesty and justice. 

Some children, from errors in early management, get 

46 the mother's book. 

possessed with the idea that they may have everything. 
They even tease for things it would be impossible to 
give them. A child properly managed will seldom ask 
twice for what you have once told him he should not 
have. But if you have the care of one who has ac- 
quired this habit, the best way to cure him of it is never 
to give him what he asks for, whether his request is 
proper or not ; but at the same time be careful to give 
him such things as he likes, (provided they are proper 
for him,) when he does not ask for them. This will 
soon break him of the habit of teasing. 

I have said much in praise of gentleness. I cannot 
say too much. Its effects are beyond calculation, both 
on the affections and the understanding. The victims 
of oppression and abuse are generally stupid, as well as 
selfish and hard-hearted. How can we wonder at it? 
They are all the time excited to evil passions, and no- 
body encourages what is good in them. We might as 
well expect flowers to grow amid the cold and storms 
of winter. 

But gentleness, important as it is, is not all that is re- 
quired in education. There should be united with it 
firmness — great firmness. Commands should be rea- 
sonable, and given in perfect kindness ; but once given, 
it should be known that they must be obeyed. I heard 
a lady once say, \ For my part, I cannot be so very 
strict with my children. I love them too much to punish 
them every time they disobey me.' I will relate a 
scene which took place in her family. She had but one 
domestic, and at the time to which I allude, she was 
very busy preparing for company. Her children knew 
by experience that when she was in a hurry she would 

the mother's book. 47 

indulge them in anything for the sake of having them 
out of the way. George began, 'Mother, I want a 
piece of mince-pie.' The answer was, 'It is nearly 
bed-time ; and mince-pie will hurt you. You shall 
have a piece of cake, if you will sit down and be still.' 
The boy ate his cake ; and liking the system of being 
hired to sit still, he soon began again, ' Mother, I want 
a piece of mince-pie.' The old answer was repeated. 
The child stood his ground, B Mother, I want a piece of 
mince-pie — I want a piece — I want a piece,' was re- 
peated incessantly. 'Will you leave off teasing, if I 
give you a piece ?' ' Yes, I will, — certain true.' A 
small piece was given, and soon devoured. With his 
mouth half full, he began again, ' 1 want another piece — 
I want another piece.' 'No, George; I shall not give 
you another mouthful. Go sit down, you naughty boy. 
You always act the worst when I am going to have 
company.' George continued his teasing ; and at last 
said, ' If you don't give me another piece, I'll roar.' 
This threat not being attended to, he kept his word. 
Upon this, the mother seized him by the shoulder, shook 
him angrily, saying, ' Hold your tongue, you naughty 
boy !' ' I will if you will give me another piece of pie,' 
said he. Another small piece was given him, after he 
had promised that he certainly would not tease any 
more. As soon as he had eaten it, he, of course, began 
again ; and with the additional threat, ' If you don't give 
me a piece, I will roar after the company comes, so 
loud that they can all hear me.' The end of all this 
was, that the boy had a sound whipping, was put to 
bed, and could not sleep all night, because the mince- 
pie made his stomach ache. What an accumulation of 

48 the mother's book. 

evils in this little scene ! His health injured, — his 
promises broken with impunity, — his mother's promises 
broken, — the knowledge gained that he could always 
vex her when she was in a hurry, — and that he could 
gain what he would by teasing. He always acted upon 
the same plan afterward ; for he only once in a while 
(when he made his mother very angry) got a whipping ; 
but he was always sure to obtain what he asked for, if 
he teased her long enough. His mother told him the 
plain truth, when she said the mince-pie would hurt him ; 
but he did not know whether it was the truth, or wheth- 
er she only said it to put him off; for he knew that she 
did sometimes deceive. (She was the woman who 
said the cat had eaten the cake.) When she gave him 
the pie, he had reason to suppose it was not true it would 
hurt him — else why should a kind mother give it to her 
child ? Had she told him that if he asked a second 
time, she should put him to bed directly — and had she 
kept her promise, in spite of entreaties, — she would have 
saved him a whipping, and herself a great deal of 
unnecessary trouble. And who can calculate all the 
whippings, and all the trouble, she would have spared 
herself and him ? I do not remember ever being in her 
house half a day without witnessing some scene of con- 
tention with the children. 

Now let me introduce you to another acquaintance. 
She was in precisely the same situation, having a com- 
fortable income and one domestic; but her children 
were much more numerous, and she had had very limit- 
ed advantages for education. Yet she managed her 
family better than any woman I ever saw, or ever ex- 
pect to see again. I will relate a scene I witnessed 

the mother's book. 49 

there, by way of contrast to the one I have just described 
Myself and several friends once entered her parlor 
unexpectedly, just as the family were seated at the 
supper-table. A little girl, about four years old, was 
obliged to be removed, to make room for us. Her 
mother assured her she should have her supper in a 
very little while, if she was a good girl. The child 
cried ; and the guests insisted that room should be made 
for her at table. 6 No,' said the mother ; 'I have told 
her she must wait ; and if she cries, I shall be obliged 
to send her to bed. If she is a good little girl, she shall 
have her supper directly.' The child could not make 
up her mind to obey ; and her mother led her out of 
the room, and gave orders that she should be put to 
bed without supper. When my friend returned, her 
husband said, ' Hannah, that was a hard case. The 
poor child lost her supper, and was agitated by the pres- 
ence of strangers. I could hardly keep from taking her 
on my knee, and giving her some supper. Poor little 
thing ! But I never will interfere with your manage- 
ment ; and much as it went against my feelings, I en- 
tirely approve of what you have done.' 'It cost me 
a struggle,' replied his wife ; ' but I know it is for the 
good of the child to be taught that I mean exactly what 
I say.' 

This family was the most harmonious, affectionate, 
happy family I ever knew. The children were man- 
aged as easily as a flock of lambs. After a few unsuc- 
cessful attempts at disobedience, when very young, they 
give it up entirely ; and always cheerfully acted from 
the conviction that their mother knew best. This fam- 
ily was governed with great strictness; firmness was 


united with gentleness. The indulgent mother, who 
said she loved her children too much to punish them, 
was actually obliged to punish them ten times as much 
as the strict mother did. 

The husband's remark leads me to say something 
of the great importance of a perfect union between 
husband and wife. A want of this in education is like 
mildew in spring. A mother should never object to a 
father's punishing a child when he thinks proper ; at 
least she should not do it before the child. Suggestions 
to each other may, of course, be made in all the free- 
dom of mutual respect and affection. One parent 
should never allow a child to do what the other has for- 
bidden ; no expression of disapprobation concerning 
management should ever be made by either party, ex- 
cept when alone. A young child ought never to sus- 
pect it is possible for his parents to think differently 
concerning what relates to his education. Perhaps you 
will ask, if, after all I have said in praise of truth, I ap- 
prove of concealment and deception in this particular. 
But you will please to recollect it is not truth which 1 
advise to have concealed in this instance ; it is only a 
difference of opinion. The child, not being old enough 
to understand the reasons why his parents differ, cannot 
receive any good from the discussion. Implicit obedi- 
ence is the first law of childhood. The simple belief 
that their parents know what is best, is all the light chil- 
dren have to follow, at first. If they see their parents 
do not agree between themselves as to what is right, it 
naturally weakens their confidence, and makes them 
uncertain which they ought to obey. c My dear, I don't 
approve of your management ' — or, ' I should not have 


allowed him to do as you have done ' — or, ' Your father 
may approve of it, but I don't ' — are very improper and 
injurious expressions. If you differ in your ideas of 
education, take a proper opportunity to discuss the 
matter in freedom and kindness ; but do not weaken the 
respect of your children by expressing doubts of each 
other's good judgment in their presence. It is hardly 
possible to exaggerate the bad effects of discord between 
parents ; and the blessed influence of domestic union 
may well be compared to a band of guardian angels 
protecting innocence from all evil things. 

If your marriage has been an unfortunate one — if the 
influence of a father may not be trusted — or if he de- 
lights in thwarting your well-meant endeavors — I know 
not what to say. If patience, humility and love cannot 
win him to a sense of duty, the only thing you can do, 
is to redouble your vigilance for the good of your chil- 
dren, and as far as possible withdraw them from his in- 
fluence. Until it becomes an imperious duty, never 
speak of a parent's errors ; unless there is great danger 
of their being imitated, let a thick veil rest upon them. 
But why should I dwell upon a case so unnatural, so 
wretched, and so hopeless ? If such be your unhappy lot, 
pray to God, and he will give you light to make the 
path of duty clear before you. He alone can help you. 

52 the mother's book. 



In infancy, the principal object is to find such toys as 
are at once attractive and safe. During the painful 
process of teething, a large ivory ring, or a dollar worn 
smooth, are good, on account of the ease they give the 
gums ; they should be fastened to a string — but not a 
green one, or any other from which a babe can suck the 
colors. Some people think nothing so good for teeth- 
ing children as a large, round piece of India rubber, 
from which it is impossible to bite a piece. Painted 
toys are not wholesome at this age, when children are so 
prone to convey everything to the mouth. A bunch of 
keys is a favorite plaything with babies. Indeed any- 
thing they can move about, and cause to produce a 
noise, is pleasant to them. 1 have seen infants amuse 
themselves, for hours, with a string of very large wooden 
beads, or shining buttons ; perhaps it is needless to say 
that no buttons but steel, wood, or ivory, are safe ; if 
they have any portion of brass about them, they are 
injurious : another caution, perhaps equally unnecessary, 
is, that playthings small enough to be swallowed should 
be tied together with a very strong string, from which no 
color can be extracted. When children are a few 
months older, blocks of wood, which can be heaped up 
and knocked down at pleasure, become favorite play- 
things. A pack of old cards are perhaps liked still 
better, on account of their bright colors and pictured 
faces. Such toys are a great deal better than expensive 

the mother's book. 53 

ones. I do not think it a good plan to give children old 
almanacs, pamphlets, &c, to tear up. How can they 
distinguish between the value of one book and another ? 
Children, who have been allowed to tear worthless 
books, may tear good ones, without the least idea that 
they are doing any harm. 

As soon as it is possible to convey instruction by toys, 
it is well to choose such as will be useful. The letters 
of the alphabet on pieces of bone are excellent for this 
purpose. I have known a child of six years old teach a 
baby-brother to read quite well, merely by playing with 
his ivory letters. In all that relates to developing the 
intellect, very young children should not be hurried or 
made to attend unwillingly. When they are playing 
with their letters, and you are at leisure, take pains to 
tell them the name of each one, as often as they ask ; 
but do not urge them. No matter if it takes them 
three weeks to learn one letter; they will not want 
their knowledge in a hurry. When the large letters 
are learned, give them the small ones. When both 
are mastered, place the letters together in some small 
word, such as CAT ; point to the letters, name them, 
and pronounce cat distinctly. After a few lessons, 
the child will know what letters to place together in 
order to spell cat. Do not try to teach him a new 
word, until he is perfectly master of the old one ; and 
do not try to force his attention to his letters, when he 
is weary, fretful and sleepy, or impatient to be doing 
something else. In this, as indeed in all other respects, 
an infant's progress is abundantly more rapid, if taught 
by a brother, or sister, nearly of his own age. The 
reason is, their little minds are in much the same state as 

54 the mother's book. 

their pupil's ; they are therefore less liable than ourselves 
to miscalculate his strength, or force him beyond his 
speed. Among instructive toys may be ranked balls 
arranged together so as to be counted. 

Every step of infantile progress should be encouraged 
by expressions of surprise and pleasure. When a child 
is able to spell a new word, or count a new number, kiss 
him, and show delight at his improvement. Sir Ben- 
jamin West relates that his mother kissed him eagerly, 
when he showed her a likeness he had sketched of 
his baby-sister; and he adds, 'That ~kiss made me a 
painter! ' 

I have before shown that the same rule applies to the 
affections — that it is better to encourage what is right, 
than to punish what is wrong. Nothing strengthens a 
child in goodness, or enables him to overcome a fault, so 
much as seeing his efforts excite a sudden and earnest 
expression of love and joy. 

For children of two or three years old, pictures are 
great sources of amusement and instruction. Engrav- 
ings of animals on large cards are very good things. It 
is a great object to have proportion observed ; if a child 
have a very small picture of an elephant, and a very 
large one of a mouse, it will lead him to the conclu- 
sion that a mouse is as large as an elephant. Children 
should be encouraged in talking about the engravings 
they look at ; and the different parts should be point- 
ed out and explained to them. Thus if a palm-tree 
is placed near the picture of an elephant, the attention 
should be drawn to it, and it should be explained to 
them that it is not the picture of any tree in this coun- 
try, (that is, in New England,) but that in Asia and 

the mother's book. 55 

Africa, where elephants live, palm-trees are very com- 
mon. If a child is old enough to understand it, some 
account of this useful tree may be given advantage- 
ously; he can be told that it yields palm-oil, palm- 
wine, that its leaves are manufactured into fans, &c. 
But if he is not old enough to feel interested in such 
an account, do not trouble him with it. The object 
of pointing out all the details of an engraving, and 
explaining them, when they differ from what he is 
accustomed to see, is merely to give habits of obser- 
vation, and arouse a spirit of inquiry. 

I think it is very important that disproportioned, badly 
drawn pictures should not be placed in the hands of chil- 
dren. No matter how coarse or common they are, but 
let them be correct imitations of nature ; if they are 
graceful, as well as correct, so much the better. Good 
taste is of less consequence than good feelings, good 
principles, and good sense ; but it certainly is of conse- 
quence, and should not uselessly be perverted or de- 
stroyed. I believe the sort of pictures children are 
accustomed to see have an important effect in forming 
their taste. The very beggar-boys of Italy will observe 
a defect in the proportions of a statue, or a picture ; and 
the reason is, that fine sculpture and paintings are in 
their churches, and about their streets. 

Playthings that children make for themselves are a 
great deal better than those which are bought for them. 
They employ them a much longer time, they exercise 
ingenuity, and they really please them more. A little 
girl had better fashion her cups and saucers of acorns, 
than to have a set of earthen ones supplied. A boy 
takes ten times more pleasure in a little wooden sled he 

56 the mother's book. 

has pegged together, than he would in a painted and 
gilded carriage brought from the toy-shop ; and I do not 
believe any expensive rocking-horse ever gave so much 
satisfaction, as I have seen a child in the country take 
with a long-necked squash, which he had bridled and 
placed on four sticks. There is a peculiar satisfaction 
in inventing things for one's self. No matter if the con- 
struction be clumsy and awkward ; it employs time 
(which is a great object in childhood), and the pleasure 
the invention gives is the first impulse to ingenuity and 
skill. For this reason, the making of little boats, and 
mechanical toys, should not be discouraged ; and when 
any difficulty occurs above the powers of a child, assist- 
ance should be cheerfully given. If the parents are 
able to explain the principles on which machines are 
constructed, the advantage will be tenfold. 

Cutting figures in paper is a harmless and useful 
amusement for those who are old enough to be trusted 
with scissors; which, by the way, should always be 
blunt-pointed, when placed in the hands of a very 
young child. Any glaring disproportion in the figures 
should be explained to a child, and he should be en- 
couraged to make his little imitations as much like nature 
as possible. There is at present a little boy in Boston, 
who at two years old took a great fancy to cutting figures 
in paper. In the course of six or eight years, he 
actually wore out five or six pairs of scissors in the ser- 
vice. He cuts with astonishing rapidity, and apparently 
without any thought ; yet he will produce little land- 
scapes, or groups, as beautiful and spirited as the best 
engravings. At first he began by copying things he had 
before him ; but he afterward attained to so much skill, 

the mother's book, 57 

that he easily invented his own designs. This talent has 
enabled him to do a great deal for the support of his 
parents, who are not rich. 

Drawing figures on a slate is a favorite amusement 
with children ; and it may prove a very useful one, if 
pains are taken to point out errors, and induce them to 
make correct imitations. Young people should be taught 
that it is not well to be careless in doing even the most 
trifling things— that whatever is worthy of being done at 
all, is worthy of being well done. 

Some distinguished writers on education have ob- 
jected to dolls, as playthings which lead to a love of 
dress and finery. I do not consider them in this light 
If a mother's influence does not foster a love of finery, 
I think there is very little danger of its being produced 
by dressing dolls. I like these toys for various reasons. 
They afford a quiet amusement ; they exercise ingenuity 
in cutting garments, and neatness in sewing ; they can be 
played with in a prodigious variety of ways ; and so far 
as they exercise the affections, their influence is innocent 
and pleasant. No doubt dolls sometimes excite very 
strong affection. Miss Hamilton tells of a little girl, 
who had a limb amputated at the hospital. She bore the 
operation with great fortitude, hugging her doll in her 
arms all the time. When it was completed, the surgeon 
playfully said, ' Now let me cut off your doll's leg.' 
This speech produced a torrent of tears, and the little 
creature could hardly be pacified. She had borne her 
own sufferings patiently, but she could not endure that 
her doll should be hurt. I know that this tenderness 
for inanimate things is not the best employment for the 
affections ; but so far as it goes, it is good, For the 

58 the mother's book. 

same reason, and in a similar degree, I think pet animate; 
have a good effect ; but care should be taken to choose 
such as are happy in a domesticated state, I cannot 
think it is right to keep creatures, that must be confined 
in cages and boxes; no pleasure can be good, which is 
so entirely selfish. 

It is a benefit to children to have the care of feeding 
animals, such as lambs, chickens, &x. It answers two 
good purposes — it excites kindness, and a love of use- 

Amusements and employments which lead to exer- 
cise in the open air have greatly the advantage of all 
others. In this respect 7 1 would make no difference 
between the management of boys and girls. Gardenings 
sliding, skating, and snow-balling, are all as good for 
girls as for boys. Are not health and cheerful spirits as 
necessary for one as the other ? It is a universal remark 
that American women are less vigorous and rosy, tha i 
women of other climates ; and that they are peculiarly 
subject to disorders of the chest and the spine. I 
believe the sole reason of this is, that our employ- 
ments and amusements lead us so little into the open 

I am aware that many people object to such plays as 
1 have recommended to girls, from the idea that they will 
make them rude and noisy- I do not believe this would 
be the case if the influences within doors favored gen- 
tleness and politeness ; and even if there were any 
danger of this sort, how much easier it is to acquire 
elegance in after life, than it is to regain health ! When 
it is considered what a loss of usefulness, as well as 
comfort, is attendant upon ill health,. I think all will ogee 

the mother's book. 59 

that a vigorous constitution is the greatest of earthly 

When I say that skating and sliding are proper amuse- 
ments for girls, I do not, of course, mean that they should 
mix in a public crowd. Such sports, when girls unite 
In them, should be confined to the inmates of the house, 
and away from all possibility of contact with the rude 
and vicious. Under these circumstances, a girl's man- 
ners cannot be injured by such wholesome recreations. 
To snow-ball, or slide, with well-behaved brothers every 
day, cannot, I am sure, tend to make a girl rude and 
■boisterous. I know one very striking instance of the 
truth of what I assert; and no doubt the memory of 
my readers will supply similar proofs. Mrs, John Adams, 
wife of the second President of the United States, and 
mother of the sixth, was very remarkable for the ele- 
gance and dignity of her manners* Even amid the 
splendor of foreign courts, she was considered a dis- 
tinguished ornament. Yet Mrs. Adams had not been 
brought up in petted indolence, or shut from the sun and 
air, for fear of injury to her beauty, or her gracefulness* 
She was a capable, active, and observing woman; and 
while she was the admiration of European courts, she 
knew how to make butter and cheese as well as any woman 
in Weymouth, which was her native place. In the latter 
part of her life, she was one day passing the home of 
her childhood, in company with an intimate friend ; she 
paused, and looked at a long lane near the house, saying 
in an animated tone, i Oh, how many hours and hours I 
have driven hoop up and down that lane !' As might 
be expected, Mrs. Adams enjoyed a hale and happy old 
age. Among the other good effects of her example, 


she has left a practical lesson to her country- women, that 
refined elegance is perfectly compatible with driving hoop 
in the open air. 

I cannot pass over the subject of amusements, with- 
out saying something in relation to children's balls and 
parties. I do not believe human ingenuity ever invent- 
ed any thing worse for the health, heart, or happiness — ► 
any thing at once so poisonous to body and soul. I da 
not, of course, refer to a social intercourse between the 
children of different families — that should be encouraged, 
I mean regular parties, in imitation of high-life — where 
children eat confectionary, stay late, dress in finery, talk 
nonsense, and affect what they do not feel — just as theiir 
elders in the fashionable world do. It is a heart-sick- 
ening sight to see innocent creatures thus early trained 
to vanity and affectation. In mercy to your children^ 
trust not their purity and peace in such a sickly and 
corrupting atmosphere. i Who was your beau last night P 
said a girl of eight years old to another of ten. ' I 
danced twice with George Wells,' was the reply. ' Did 
you wear your pink sash, or your blue one?' I could 
have wept in very pity for the guileless young creatures, 
into whose cup of life poison had been so early poured 1 
I speak the more earnestly on this subject, because it 
has become so general a habit with all classes of people 
to indulge children in balls and parties. 

As for dancing,, within and of itself,. I see no objection 
to it. It is a healthy, innocent, and graceful recreation. 
The vanity and dissipation, of which it has usually been 
die accompaniment, have brought it into disrepute with 
the conscientious. But if dancing be made to serve the 
purpose, which all accomplishments should serve, — 


that of ministering to the pleasure of father, mother, 
brothers, sisters and friends, — it is certainly innocent and 
becoming. I do not mean to imply that it is wrong to 
dance anywhere else but at home. — I simply mean that 
girls should not learn an accomplishment for the purpose 
of display among strangers. Let them learn anything 
which your income allows (without a diminution of 
comfort or benevolence) — but teach them to acquire it 
as a means of future usefulness, as a pleasant resource, 
or for the sake of making home agreeable — -not with the 
hope of exciting admiration abroad. 

It is very important, and very difficult, to furnish 
young children with sufficient employment. What we 
call a natural love of mischief, is in fact nothing but ac- 
tivity. Children are restless for employment ; they 
must have something to do ; and if they are not furnished 
with what is useful or innocent, they will do mischief. 
No one who has not lived with a family of children can 
conceive how very difficult it is to keep a child of five 
or six years old employed. It is a good plan to teach 
little girls to knit, to weave bobbin, watchguards, chains, 
&c. Making patchwork is likewise a quiet amusement ; 
and if a child be taught to fit it herself, it may be made 
really useful. If the corners are not fitted exactly, or 
the sewing done neatly, it should be taken to pieces and 
fitted again ; for it is by inattention to these little things 
that habits of carelessness are formed. On no occasion 
whatever should a child be excused from finishing what 
she has begun. The custom of having half a dozen 
things on hand at once, should not be tolerated. Every- 
thing should be finished, and well finished. It ought to 
be considered a disgrace to give up anything, after it is 

62 the mother's book. 

once undertaken. Habits of perseverance are of incal- 
culable importance ; and a parent should earnestly im- 
prove the most trifling opportunities of impressing this* 
truth. Even in so small a thing as untying a knot, a 
boy should be taught to think it unmanly to be either 
impatient or discouraged. 

Always encourage a child in fitting her own work, and 
arranging her own playthings. Few things are more val- 
uable, in this changing world, than the power of taking 
care of ourselves. It is a useful thing for children ta 
make a little shirt exactly after the model of a large one, 
fitting all the parts themselves, after you have furnished 
them with a model of each part in paper. Knitting 
may be learned still earlier than sewing. I am sorry to 
see this old fashioned accomplishment so universally dis- 
carded. It is a great resource to the aged ; and women, 
in all situations of life, have so many lonely hours, that 
they cannot provide themselves with too many resources 
in youth. For this reason I would indulge girls in 
learning anything that did not interfere with their duties, 
provided I could afford it as well as not ; such as all 
kinds of ornamental work, boxes, baskets, purses, &,c. 
Every new acquirement, however trifling, is an additional 
resource against poverty and depression of spirits. 

The disposition to help others should be cherished 
as much as possible. Even very little children are 
happy when they think they are useful. ' I can do some 
good, can't I, mother ?' is one of the first questions asked. 
To encourage this spirit, indulge children in assist- 
ing you, even when their exertions are full as much 
trouble as profit. Let them go out with their little bas- 
ket, to weed the garden, to pick peas for dinner, to feed 


file chickens, &,c. It is true they will at first need con- 
stant overseeing, to prevent them from pulling up flowers 
as well as weeds ; but then it employs them innocently, 
and makes them happy; and if dealt gently with, they 
soon learn to avoid mistakes. In the house, various things 
may be found to employ children. They may dust the 
chairs, and wipe the spoons, and teach a younger brother 
his lessons, &:c. As far as possible keep children always 
employed — either sewing, or knitting, or reading, or 
playing, or studying, or walking. Do not let them form 
habits of listlessness and lounging. If they endeavor to 
-assist you, and do mischief while they are really trying to 
do their best, do not scold at them ; merely explain t® 
them how they should have gone to work, and give them 
a lesson of carefulness in future. 

As girls grow older, they should be taught to take the 
entire care of their own clothes, and of all the light and 
easy work necessary in their own apartments. 

I have said less about boys, because it is not so diffi- 
cult to find employment for them as for girls. The same 
general rules apply to both. Boys should be allowed to 
assist others, when they possibly can, and should be en* 
couraged in all sorts of ingenious experiments not abso 
lutely mischievous. In general it is a good rule to learn 
whatever we can, without interfering with our duties. 
My grand-mother used to say, c Lay by all scraps and 
fragments, and they will be sure to come in use in seven 
years.' I would make the same remark with regard to 
scraps and fragments of knowledge. It is impossible for 
us to foresee in youth, what will be the circumstances 
of our after life ; the kind of information, which at one 
period seems likely to be of very little use to us, may 

64 the mother's book. 

become very important. If I happened to be thrown 
into the society of those who excelled in any particular 
branch, I would gain all the information I could, without 
being obtrusive. No matter whether it be poetry, oir 
puddings, — making shoes, or making music, — riding a 
horse, or rearing a grape-vine ; — it is well to learn what- 
ever comes- in one's way, provided it does not interfere 
with the regular discharge of duty. It was a maxim 
with the great Sir William Jones, i never to lose an op- 
portunity of learning anything.' 



It is a great misfortune for people to imbibe, in the 
days of childhood, a dislike of the Sabbath, or a want 
of reverence for its sacred character. Some parents, 
from a conscientious wish to have the Sabbath kept 
holy, restrain children in the most natural and innocent 
expressions of gayety — if they laugh, or jump, or touch 
their play-things, they are told that it is wicked to do 
so, because it is Sunday. — The result of this excessive 
strictness is that the day becomes hateful to them. They 
learn to consider it a period of gloom and privation ; 
and the Bible and the church become distasteful, be- 
cause they are associated with it. A little girl of my 
acquaintance, in the innocence of her heart, once made 
an exclamation, which showed what she really thought 
of Sunday. She had long been very anxious to go to 

the mother's book* 65 

the theatre ; and when she was about six or seven years 
old, her wish was very injudiciously gratified. The after- 
piece happened to be Der Freyschutz, a horrible Ger- 
man play, in which wizards, devils, and flames are the 
principal agents. The child's terror increased until her 
loud sobs made it necessary to carry her home. 'What 
Is the matter with my darling? asked her grandmother 
• — Don't she love to go to the theatre .?' \ Oh, grand- 
mother i' exclaimed the sobbing child, ' it is a great deal 
worse than going to meeting 1 .' My motive in men- 
tioning this anecdote will not, of course, be misunder- 
stood. Nothing is farther from my intentions than 
to throw ridicule upon any place of worship. It is 
merely introduced to show that Sunday was so unpleas- 
antly associated in the child's mind, as to make her in- 
voluntarily compare it with anything disagreeable or 
painful ; being restrained at home every moment of the 
day, made the necessary restraint at church irksome to 
her; whereas with proper management it might have 
been a pleasant variety. 

Some parents, on the other hand., go to the opposite 
extreme ; and from the fear of making the Sabbath 
gloomy, they make no distinction between that and 
other days. This is the more dangerous extreme of the 
two. A reverence for the Sabbath, even if it be a mere 
matter of habit, and felt to be a restraint, is very much 
better than no feeling at all upon the subject. But it 
appears to me that a medium between the two extremes 
is both easy and expedient. Children under five or six 
years old cannot sit still and read all day ; and being 
impossible, it should not be required of them. They 


may be made to look on a book r but they cannot b^ 
made to feel interested in it, hour after hour. Child- 
hood is so restless, so active, and so gay, that such re- 
quirements will be felt and resisted as a state of bondage. 
Moreover, if a child is compelled to keep his eyes on a 
book, when he does not want to read, it will early give 
the impression that mere outward observances constitute 
religion. It is so much easier to perform external cere- 
monies than it is to drive away evil feelings from our 
hearts, that mankind in all ages have been prone to trust 
*n them. They who think they are religious merely be- 
cause they attend church regularly, and read a chapter in 
the Bible periodically, labor precisely under the same 
mistake as the Mahometan, who expects to save his soul r . 
by travelling barefoot to Mecca,, or the East Indian; 
Fakir, who hangs with his head downward several 
hours each day, in order to prove his sanctity. There 
is no real religion that does not come from the heart ;.. 
outward observances are worth nothing except they 
spring from inward feeling. In all ages and countries 
we find men willing to endure every species of privation- 
and suffering, nay, even death itself, for the sake of 
going to heaven ; but very few are willing that the 
Lord should purify their hearts from selfish feelings.. 
Like the leper of old they are willing to do some great 
thing, but they will not obey the simple injunction to 
'wash and be clean.' 

This tendency to trust m what is outward is so strong 
in human nature that great care should be taken not to 
strengthen it by education. Children should always be 
taught to judge whether their actions are right, by the 

the mother's book. 67 

motives which induced the actions. Religion should 
be made as pleasant as possible to their feelings, and all 
particular rules and prohibitions should be avoided. 

Quiet is the first idea which a young child can receive 
of the Sabbath ; therefore I would take no notice of his 
playing with his kitten, or his blocks, so long as he kept 
still. If he grew noisy, I should then say to him, 6 You 
must not make a noise to-day : for it is the Sabbath 
day, and I wish to be quiet, and read good books. If 
you run about, it disturbs me.' 

I make these remarks with regard to very young 
children. As soon as they are old enough to read and 
take an interest in religious instruction, I would have 
playthings put away ; but I would not compel them to 
refrain from play, before I gave them something else to 
interest their minds. I would make a difference in their 
playthings. The noisy rattle and the cart which have 
amused them during the week, should give place to 
picture-books, the kitten, little blocks, or any quiet 

If the heads of a family keep the Sabbath with sobri- 
ety and stillness, the spirit of the day enters into the 
hearts of the children. I have seen children of three 
and four years oJd, who were habitually more quiet on 
Sunday than on any other day, merely from the soothing 
influence of example. 

A child should be accustomed to attend public worship 
as early as possible ; and the walk to and from church 
should be made pleasant, by calling his attention to 
agreeable objects. When his little heart is delighted 
with the lamb, or the dove, or the dog, or the flower, 
jou have pointed out to him, take that opportunity to 

68 the mother's book. 

tell him God made all these things, and that he has 
provided everything for their comfort, because he is- 
very kind. We are too apt to forget God, except in? 
times of affliction, and to remind children of him only 
during some awful manifestation of his power ; such as 
thunder, lightning and whirlwind. It certainly is proper 
to direct the infant thoughts to him at such seasons ; but 
not at such seasons only. A tempest produces a natural 
feeling of awe, which should never be disturbed by 
jesting and laughter; emotions of dependence and 
reverence are salutary to mortals. But we should speak 
of God often in connexion with everything calm and 
happy. We should lead the mind to dwell upon his< 
infinite goodness ; that he may indeed be regarded as a 
Heavenly Father. 

An early habit of prayer is a blessed thing. I would 
teach it to a child as soon as he could lisp the words.. 
At first, some simple form must be used, like, ' Now I 
lay me down to sleep f but as children grow older, it is 
well to express themselves just as they feel. A little 
daughter of one of my friends, when undressed to go to 
bed, knelt down of her own accord, and said* ' Our 
Father, who art m heaven, forgive me for striking my 
little brother to-day, and help me not to strike him 
again ; for oh, if he should die, how sorry I should be 
that I struck him !' Another in her evening prayer 
thanked God for a little sugar dog r that had been given 
her in the course of the day. Let it not be thought for 
a moment that there is any irreverence in such prayers 
as these coming from little innocent hearts. It has a 
blessed influence to look to God as the source of all our 
enjoyments ; and as the enjoyments of a child must 

the mother's book. 69 

necessarily be childish, it is sincere and proper for them 
to express gratitude in this way. 

While I endeavored to make Sunday a very cheerful 
day, I would as far as possible give a religious character 
to all its conversation and employments. Very young 
children will become strongly interested in the Bible, 
if it is read to them, or they are suffered to talk about it. 
They will want to hear, for the hundredth time, about 
the little boy who said to his father, ' My head ! My 
head V They will tell over to each other with a great 
deal of delight, how he died, and was laid on his little 
bed, and how the prophet lay down with him, and 
restored him to life ; and how the little boy sneezed 
seven times. 

The story of Joseph, of Samuel, of David, of the 
meeting of Isaac and Rebecca at the Well, are very 
attractive to children. It is the first duty of a mother 
to make the Bible precious and delightful to her family. 
In order to do this, she must choose such parts as are 
best suited to their capacities \ talk to them about it in 
a pleasant and familiar style ; and try to get their little 
minds interested in what they read. If made to spell 
out a chapter in a cold, formal manner, and then told to 
go and sit down and be still, they will take no interest 
in the Bible ; nor would they, by such means, take an 
interest in anything. 

At no period of life should people hear the Bible 
spoken lightly of, or any passage quoted in jest ; 
thoughtlessness in this respect does great mischief to 
ourselves and others. There cannot be a worse prac- 
tice than that of making a child commit a chapter of 
the Scriptures as a punishment for any offence. At 


some schools, the Bible (being the heaviest book to be 
found) is held at arm's length till the little culprit gets 
so weary, that he would gladly throw the volume 
across the room. — This is very injudicious. In no way 
whatever should the Bible be associated with anything 

A little hymn every Sabbath is a pleasant and profit- 
able lesson ; and if it is simple enough to be understood, 
the child will amuse himself by repeating it through the 
week. Some of the very strongest impressions of child- 
hood are made by the hymns learned at an early age : 
therefore, parents should be careful what kind of ones 
are learned. They should first read them themselves, 
and think carefully what impressions of God, religion, 
and death, they are likely to convey. 

As children grow older, you may add to their interest 
in the Scriptures by accounts of Palestine, and of the 
customs of the Jews. Helon's Pilgrimage to Jerusa- 
lem is a good book for this purpose. Maps, on which 
the travels of our Saviour and the Apostles may be 
traced are excellent for Sunday lessons. Such means 
as these give an interest to religious instruction, and 
prevent it from becoming a task. Perhaps some parents 
will be ready to say that their own education has not 
fitted them for thus assisting their children ; but surely 
books and maps are cheap, and whoever has common 
sense, and the will to learn, cannot fail to understand 
them. As for the expense, it is better to give your 
child right feelings and enlightened ideas, than to give 
him dollars. You may leave him a large sum of money, 
but he cannot buy happiness with it, neither can he buy 
a good heart, or a strong mind ; but if his feelings are 


correct and his understanding cultivated, he will as- 
suredly be happy, and will be very likely to acquire a 
competency of the good things of this world. 

In order to relieve the tediousness of too much read- 
ing and studying, it is a good plan for parents to walk 
with children on Sabbath afternoon, for the purpose of 
drawing their attention to the works of God, and 
explaining how his goodness extends over all things. 
The structure of a bird's nest may be made to convey 
religious instruction, and inspire religious feeling, as well 
as a hymn. For this reason, books which treat of the 
wonderful mechanism of the eye and the ear, the pro- 
visions for the comfort of animals, and the preservation 
of plants — in a word, all that leads the mind to dwell 
upon the goodness and power of God, — are appropriate 
books for Sunday, and may be read, or studied, to great 
advantage, when children are old enough to understand 

But after all, religion is not so much taught by lessons, 
as it is by our examples, and habits of speaking, acting, 
and thinking. It should not be a garment reserved only 
for Sunday wear ; we should always be in the habit of 
referring everything to our Father in heaven. If a 
child is reminded of God at a moment of peculiar hap- 
piness, and is then told to be grateful to Him for all his 
enjoyments, it will do him more good than any words 
he can learn. To see the cherry-stone he has planted 
becoming a tree, and to be told that God made it grow, 
will make a more lively impression on his mind, than 
could be produced by any lesson from a book. The 
Friends say every day should be Sunday ; and certainly 
no day should pass without using some of the opportuni- 

72 the mother's book. 

ties, which are always occurring, of leading the heart 
to God. 

To catechisms in general I have an aversion. I think 
portions of the Bible itself are the best things to be 
learned ; and something may be found there to interest 
all ages. Cummings' Questions in the New Testament 
appear to me better than anything of the kind ; because 
the answers are to be found in the Bible itself; but even 
in this I would blot out all answers given by the writer — 
I would have children learn nothing of men, but every- 
thing from God. Ii is important that Bible lessons 
should be accompanied with familiar and serious conver- 
sation with parents; it interests a child's feelings, and 
enlightens his understanding. Perhaps some will think 
I have pointed out very arduous duties for the Sabbath, 
and that if so much is done for children, parents will have 
no time left for their own reading and reflection. But 
there can be no doubt that (interesting) lessons and con- 
versations with children are both pleasant and useful to 
parents ; you cannot dispose of a part of the day more 
satfactorily to your heart or your conscience. It is by no 
means necessary to devote the whole day expressly to their 
instruction. Let your own pursuits be such as imply a 
respect for the sanctity of the Sabbath, and put them 
in the way of employing themselves about what is good, 
as well as pleasant. Young people should always be 
taught to respect the employments and convenience of 
others ; they should learn to wait patiently for their 
elders to join in their studies or amusements. If you 
treat them with perfect gentleness, and show a willing- 
ness to attend to them when it is in your power, they 
will soon acquire the habit of waiting cheerfully. But 

the mother's book. 73 

never explain anything to a child because he is impatient 
and teases you, when it is really very inconvenient to 
you, and of no immediate consequence to him. Let your 
constant practice in all things show him, that you are 
less inclined to attend to him when he teases you, than 
when he waits patiently ; but, at the same time, never 
make him wait when it is not necessary. There is no 
end to the wonders that may be wrought by gentleness 
and firmness. 

The religious knowledge conveyed in early childhood 
should be extremely simple. It is enough to be told 
that God is their Father in heaven; that every thing in 
the world is formed by his wisdom, and preserved by his 
love ; that he knows every thought of their hearts ; that 
he loves them when they do what is right ; and that 
good children, when they die, go to heaven, where God 
and the angels are. No opportunity should be lost of 
impressing upon their minds that God loves the creatures 
he has made ; even for the most common enjoyments of 
life they should be taught to be thankful to him. When 
guilty of a falsehood, or any other wrong action, they 
should be solemnly reminded that though nobody in the 
world may know it, God sees it. This simple truth will 
make a serious impression, even when they are quite 
small ; and as they grow older, they may be more deeply 
impressed, by adding that every time we indulge any 
evil feeling, we remove ourselves farther from God and 
good angels, and render ourselves unfit for heaven. It 
may seem like a nice metaphysical distinction, but I do 
think it very important that children should early, and 
constantly, receive the idea that the wicked remove them- 
selves from God — that God newer withdraws from them. 

74 the mother's book. 

Divine influence is always shedding its holy beams upon 
the human soul, to purify and bless. It is our own 
fault, if our souls are in such a state that we cannot 
receive it. 

In the whole course of education, we should never 
forget that we arc rearing beings for another world as 
well as for this ; they should be taught to consider this 
life as a preparation for a better. Human policy is apt 
to look no farther than the honors and emoluments of 
this world ; but our present life is, at the longest, but 
an exceedingly small part of our existence ; and how 
unwise it is to prepare for time and neglect eternity. 
Besides, the best way of fitting ourselves for this world 
is to prepare for another. Human prudence is not 
willing to perform every duty in earnestness and humility, 
and trust the rest to Providence. Yet, after all, God 
will do much better for us than we can do for ourselves. 
All our deep-laid schemes cannot make us so happy, as 
we should be if we were simply good. I do not mean 
that the active employments of life should be neglected ; 
for I consider them as duties, which may and ought to 
be performed in the true spirit of religion : I mean that 
we should industriously cultivate and exert our abilities, 
as a means of usefulness, without feeling anxious about 
wealth or reputation. It is the doing things from a 
wrong motive, which produces so much disorder and 
unhappiness in the world. 

Religious education, in early life, should be addressed 
to the heart, rather than to the mind. The affections 
should be filled with love and gratitude to God, but no 
attempt should be made to introduce doctrinal opinions 
into the understanding. Even if they could be under^ 

the mother's book. 75 

stood, it would not be well to teach them. It is better 
that the mind should be left in perfect freedom to choose 
its creed ; if the feelings are religious, God w T ill en- 
lighten the understanding ; he who really loves what is 
good, will perceive what is true. 

Miss Hamilton, in her excellent book on education, 
relates an anecdote of a mother, who tried to explain 
the doctrine of atonement by telling a child that God 
came down from heaven, and lived and died on earth, 
for the sins of men. The little girl looked thoughtfully 
in the fire for some time, and then eagerly exclaimed, 
' Oh, what a good time the angels must have had, when 
God was gone away !' 

This child, being subject to great restraint in the 
presence of her parents, was probably in the habit of 
having a frolic when they were gone ; and she judged 
the angels by the same rule. She was not to blame 
for judging by what she had seen and felt. It was the 
only standard she could use. The error was in at- 
tempting to give her ideas altogether too vast for her 
infant mind. This anecdote shows how necessary it 
is that religious instruction should, at first, be extremely 
plain and simple. 

There is nothing perhaps in which Christians act so 
inconsistently as in surrounding death with associations 
of grief and terror. We profess to believe that the 
good whom we have loved in this life, are still alive in 
a better and happier world ; yet we clothe ourselves in 
black, toll the bell, shun the room where we saw them 
die, and weep when they are mentioned. My own prej- 
udices against wearing mourning are very strong — 
nothing but the certaintv of wounding the feelings of 

76 the mother's book. 

some near and dear friend would ever induce me to 
follow the custom. However, I have no right, nor have 
1 any wish, to interfere with the prejudices of others. 
I shall only speak of mourning in connexion with other 
things, that tend to give children melancholy ideas of 
death. For various reasons, we should treat the subject 
as cheerfully as possible. We all must die ; and if we 
really believe that we shall live hereafter, under the 
care of the same all-merciful God, who has pro- 
tected us here, why should we dread to die ? Children 
should always hear death spoken of as a blessed change ; 
and if the selfishness of our nature will wring some 
tears from us, when our friends die, they should be such 
tears as we shed for a brief absence, not the heart- 
rending sobs of utter separation. When death occurs 
in the family, use the opportunity to make a child 
familiar with it. Tell him the brother, or sister, or pa- 
rent he loved is gone to God ; and that the good are 
far happier with the holy angels, than they could have 
been on earth ; and that if we are good, we shall in a little 
while go to them in heaven. Whenever he afterwards 
alludes to them, say they are as much alive as they were 
on this earth ; and far happier. Do not speak of it as 
a thing to be regretted that they have gone early to 
heaven ; but rather as a privilege to be desired that we 
shall one day go to them. This is the view which the 
Christian religion gives us ; and it is the view we should 
all have, did not a guilty conscience, or an injudicious 
education inspire us with feelings of terror. The most 
pious people are sometimes entirely unable to overcome 
the dread of death, which they received in childhood ; 
whereas, those whose first impressions on this subject 

the mother's book. 77 

have been pleasant, find within themselves a strong sup- 
port in times of illness and affliction. 

The following is extracted from Miss Hamilton's work 
on Education : — 

? If we analyze the slavish fear of death, which consti- 
tutes no trifling portion of human misery, we shall often 
find it impossible to be accounted for on any other 
grounds than those of early association. Frequently 
does this slavish fear operate in the bosoms of those 
who know not the pangs of an accusing conscience, and 
whose spirits bear them witness that they have reason 
to have hope and confidence towards God. But in 
vain does reason and religion speak peace to the soul of 
him whose first ideas of death have been accompanied 
with strong impressions of terror. The association 
thus formed is too powerful to be broken, and the only 
resource to which minds under its influence generally 
resort, is to drive the subject from their thoughts as 
much as possible. To this cause we may attribute the 
unwillingness which many people evince towards mak- 
ing a settlement of their affairs ; not that they entertain 
the superstitious notion of accelerating the hour of their 
death by making a will ; but that the aversion to the 
subject of death is so strong in their minds, that they 
feel a repugnance to the consideration of whatever is 
even remotely connected with it. 

6 How often the same association operates in deterring 
from the serious contemplation of a future state, we 
must leave to the consciences of individuals to deter- 
mine. Its tendency to enfeeble the mind, and its con- 
sequences in detracting from the happiness of life, are 

78 the mother's book. 

obvious to common observation ; but as every subject 
of this nature is best elucidated by examples, I shall 
beg leave to introduce two from real life, in which the 
importance of early association will, I trust, be clearly 

1 The first instance I shall give of the abiding influence 
of strong impressions received in infancy, is in the char- 
acter of a lady who is now no more ; and who was too 
eminent for piety and virtue, to leave any doubt of her 
being now exalted to the enjoyment of that felicity 
which her enfeebled mind, during its abode on earth, 
never dared to contemplate. The first view she had of 
death in infancy was accompanied with peculiar circum- 
stances of terror ; and this powerful impression was, by 
the injudicious language of the nursery, aggravated and 
increased, till the idea of death became associated with 
all the images of horror which the imagination could 
conceive. Although born of a noble family, her edu- 
cation was strictly pious ; but the piety which she wit- 
nessed was tinctured with fanaticism, and had little 
in it of that divine spirit of " love which casteth out 
fear." Her understanding was naturally excellent ; or, in 
other words, what is in our sex generally termed mas- 
culine ; and it was improved by the advantages of a very 
superior education. But not all the advantages she 
derived from nature or cultivation, not all the strength of 
a sound judgment, nor all the sagacity of a penetrating 
and cultivated genius, could counteract the association 
which rendered the idea of death a subject of perpetual 
terror to her mind. Exemplary in the performance of 
every religious and every social duty, full of faith and 
of good works, she never dared to dart a glance of hope 

the mother's book. 79 

beyond the tomb. The gloomy shadows that hovered 
over the regions of death made the heart recoil from 
the salutary meditation ; and when sickness brought the 
subject to her view, her whole soul was involved in a 
tumult of horror and dismay. In every illness it be- 
came the business of her family and friends to devise 
methods of concealing from her the real danger. Every 
face was then dressed in forced smiles, and every 
tongue employed in the repetition of flattering false- 
hoods. To mention the death of any person in her 
presence became a sort of petit treason in her family ; 
and from the pains that were taken to conceal every 
event of this kind from her knowledge, it was easy to 
conjecture how much was to be dreaded from the direful 
effect such information would infallibly produce. She 
might, indeed, be said 

" To die a thousand deaths in fearing one." 
And had often suffered much more from the apprehen- 
sion, than she could have suffered from the most 
agonizing torture that ever attended the hour of disso- 

* Here we have an instance of a noble mind subjected 
by means of early association to the most cruel bon- 
dage. Let us now take a view of the consequences of 
impressing the mind with more agreeable associations 
on the same subject at the same early period. 

< A friend of mine, on expressing his admiration of 
the cheerfulness and composure, which a lady of his 
acquaintance had invariably shown on the threatened 
approach of death, was thus answered : " The fortitude 
you so highly applaud, I indeed acknowledge as the 
first and greatest of blessings ; for to it I owe the enjoy - 


ment of all the mercies, which a good Providence has 
graciously mingled in the cup of suffering. But I take 
no merit to myself on its account. It is not, as you 
suppose, the magnanimous effort of reason ) and how- 
ever it may be supported by that religious principle 
which inspires hope, and teaches resignation, while I 
see those who are my superiors in every Christian grace 
and virtue appalled by the terrors of death, I cannot to 
religion alone attribute my superior fortitude. For 
that fortitude I am, under God, chiefly indebted to the 
judicious friend of my infancy, who made the idea of 
death not only familiar but pleasant to my imagination. 
The sudden death of an elderly lady to whom I was 
much attached, gave her an opportunity, before I had 
attained my sixth year, of impressing this subject on my 
mind in the most agreeable colors. 

' " To this judicious management do I attribute much 
of that serenity, which, on the apprehended approach 
of death, has ever possessed my mind. Had the idea 
been first impressed upon my imagination with its usual 
gloomy accompaniments, it is probable that it would 
still have been there invested in robes of terror ; nor 
w T ould all the efforts of reason, nor all the arguments of 
religion, have been able in these moments effectually 
to tranquillize my soul. Nor is it only in the hour of 
real danger that I have experienced the good effects of 
this freedom from the slavish fear of death ; it has saved 
me from a thousand petty alarms and foolish apprehen- 
sions, into which people of stronger minds than I can 
boast, are frequently betrayed by the involuntary im- 
pulse of terror. So much, my good friend, do we all 
owe to early education." ' 


To these remarks, I will add an anecdote, that came 
under the observation of one of my friends. A little 
girl saw a beloved aunt die. The child was very young, 
— she had no ideas at all about death, — it was her 
first lesson on the subject. She was much affected, 
and wept bitterly. Her mother led her to the bed, 
kissed the cheek of the corpse, and observed how 
smiling and happy the countenance looked. ' We must 
not weep for dear aunt Betsy,' said she ; c she is living 
now with the angels ; and though she cannot come to see 
us, she loves us, and will rejoice when we are good. If 
we are good, like her, we shall go to heaven, where she 
is ; and to go to heaven, is like going to a happy home.' 

This conversation soothed the child's mind ; she felt 
the cold hand, kissed the cold cheek, and felt sure that 
her aunt was still alive and loved her. 

A year or two afterwards, this child was very ill, and 
they told her the doctor said she would die. She looked 
up smiling in her mother's face, and said, with joyful 
simplicity, ' I shall see dear aunt Betsy before you do, 
mother.' What a beautiful lesson ! 

So important do I consider cheerful associations with 
death, that I wish to see our grave-yards laid out with 
walks, and trees, and beautiful shrubs, as places of public 
promenade. We ought not to draw such a line of 
separation between those who are living in this world, and 
those who are alive in another. A cherished feeling of 
tenderness for the dead is a beautiful trait in the Catholic 
religion. The prayers that continue to be offered for the 
departed, the offering of flowers upon the tomb, the little 
fragrant wreath held in the cold hand of the dead infant, 
— all these things are beautiful and salutary. It may be 

82 the mother's book. 

thought such customs are merely poetic ; but I think 
they perform a much higher use than merely pleasing the 
fancy ; I believe they help to give permanently cheer- 
ful impressions of our last great change. It is difficult 
for the wisest of us to tell out of what trifles our preju- 
dices and opinions have been gradually composed. 

A friend, w r ho had resided some time in Brazil, told 
an anecdote, which was extremely pleasing to me, on 
account of the distinct and animating faith it implied. 
When walking on the beach, he overtook a negro wo- 
man, carrying a large tray upon her head. Thinking 
she had fruit or flowers to sell, he called to her to stop. 
On being asked what she had in her tray, she lowered 
the burthen upon the sand, and gently uncovered it. 
It was a dead negro babe, covered with a neat while 
robe, with a garland around its head, and a bunch of 
flowers in the little hands, that lay clasped upon its 
bosom. ' Is this your child ?' asked my friend. ' It 
was mine a few day's ago,' she said ; ' but it is the Ma- 
donna's now. I am carrying it to the church to be 
buried. It is a little angel now? ' How beautifully 
you have laid it out !' said the traveller. ' Ah,' replied 
the negro, ' that is nothing compared to the beautiful 
bright wings with which it is flying through heaven !' 

With regard to supernatural appearances, I think they 
should never be spoken of as objects of terror, neither 
should the possibility be treated as ridiculous. If we 
treat such subjects with contempt and utter unbelief, we 
at once involve ourselves in contradiction; for we tell 
our children they must believe the Bible ; and in the 
Bible they read of angels holding intercourse with men, 
and of the dead rising from their graves. 

the mother's book. 83 

Some say, keep children in utter ignorance of such 
subjects ; but that is not possible. They will find them 
mentioned in Scripture, and in nine tenths of the books 
not expressly written for childhood. Our utmost care 
cannot keep such ideas from entering their minds ; and 
my own opinion is, that it is not desirable we should. I 
believe that children may be taught to think of super- 
natural appearances, not only without terror, but with 
actual pleasure. It is a solemn and mysterious subject, 
and should not be introduced uselessly ; but if children 
asked questions of their own accord, I should answer 
them according to what I believed to be the truth. I 
should tell them I believed the dead were living, speak- 
ing and thinking beings, just like ourselves ; that they 
were happy in heaven in proportion as they were good 
on earth ; that in ancient times, when men were inno- 
cent, angels used to come and see them, and that they 
loved to see them ; but that now men were so wicked 
they could not see angels — the holy and beautiful privi- 
lege had been lost by indulging in evil ; that angels full 
of love watched over the good, and rejoiced when they 
put away a wicked thought, or conquered a wicked 
feeling ; but that we cannot see them any more than the 
blind man can see the sun when it is shining upon him. 
I would tell them that the wicked, by indulging evil, go 
away from the influence of God and angels, and that is 
the reason they are afraid ; that men who have been 
bad in this world are bad in another, and delight to see 
us indulge in sin ; but that God protects us always, and 
we need not be afraid of anything that is evil, except 
the evil in our own hearts; that if we try to be good, 
God and his angels will guard over us and teach us what 

84 the mother's book. 

we ought to do ; and that evil spirits can have no power 
to tempt us, or to make us afraid, except the power we 
give them by indulging our own evil passions. 

I am aware that my views on this subject will differ 
from many of my readers ; but through the whole of 
this book I have endeavored to speak what appeared 
to me to be the honest truth, without any reference 
to what might be thought of it. I believe that a child 
would have no sort of fear of subjects they heard thus 
familiarly and plainly dealt with. In one or two in- 
stances, the experiment has been tried with perfect 
success. The children to whom I allude never have 
an idea of seeing spirits ; but they think Abraham and 
Jacob, who used to see them, must have been very 
happy. They are familiar with the idea that if they 
indulge in evil, they put themselves under the influence 
of spirits like themselves ; but they have not the slight- 
est fear of seeing them. They know that they have 
spiritual eyes, with which they see in their dreams, and 
will see in heaven ; and that they have bodily eyes, with 
which they see the material things of this world ; but 
they know very well that spiritual forms cannot be seen 
by the natural organs of sight. 

If my advice on this mysterious subject seems to you 
absurd, or impracticable, reject it, in the same freedom 
that I have given it. But let me ask you one question 
— -Did you ever know fear upon these subjects over- 
come by ridicule, or by arguments to prove there were 
no such things as supernatural appearances? I once 
knew a strong-minded man, who prided himself upon 
believing nothing which he could not see, touch, and 
understand. (How he believed in the existence of his 

the mother's book. 85 

own soul, I do not know.) His children, from some 
cause or other, had their minds excited on the subject 
of visions. The father told them it was all nonsense — 
that there was not a word of truth in anything of the 
sort. ' But Jesus Christ appeared to his disciples, after 
he was dead,' said one of the boys. ' Oh, that was a 
miracle,' replied the father : ' sit down, and I will tell 
you a beautiful ghost-story.' Then he told a long 
story of a man, who several times saw his deceased 
friend all dressed in white, seated in his arm-chair, wear- 
ing exactly the same wig he had always worn in his 
life-time. The story was wrought up with a good deal 
of skill. The gloom of twilight, the melancholy smile 
of the phantom, the terror of the spectator, were all 
eloquently described. The children stared their eyes 
almost out of their heads. At last, the end of the story 
came, — 'A servant entered with a light, and the old 
man in the arm-chair proved to be — a great white 

But what was the effect on the children ? Did such 
a story calm or satisfy their minds ? No. It terrified 
them greatly. For months after, they were afraid to go 
into the dark, lest they should see — a great white dog. 

While I represented the intercourse with angels as a 
privilege that belonged to purity and innocence, I would 
as much as possible keep from the knowledge of chil- 
dren all those frightful stories to which remorse and dis- 
ease have given birth. Should any such come in their 
way, I would represent them as the effects of a guilty 
conscience, or disordered nerves, both of which pro- 
duce a species of insanity; and at the same time I 

86 the mother's book. 

would talk of the love and protection of their heavenly 
Father, reminding them that every time they resisted 
what was wrong, they put themselves more and more 
under the blessed influence of God and his holy angels. 



The books chosen for young people should as far as 
possible combine amusement with instruction ; but it is 
very important that amusement should not become a 
necessary inducement. I think a real love of reading 
is the greatest blessing education can bestow, particu- 
larly upon a woman. It cheers so many hours of ill- 
ness and seclusion ; it gives the mind something to in- 
terest itself about, instead of the concerns of one's 
neighbors, and the changes of fashion ; it enlarges the 
heart, by giving extensive views of the world ; it every 
day increases the points of sympathy with an intelligent 
husband ; and it gives a mother materials for furnish- 
ing the minds of her children. Yet I believe a real love 
of reading is not common among women. I know that 
the new novels are very generally read ; but this springs 
from the same love of pleasing excitement, which leads 
people to the theatre ; it does not proceed from a thirst 
for information. For this reason, it has a bad effect to 
encourage an early love for works of fiction ; particu- 
larly such as contain romantic incidents. To be sure, 
works of this kind have of late years assumed so elevated 

the mother's book. 87 

a character, that there is very much less danger from 
them than formerly. We now have true pictures of 
life in all its forms, instead of the sentimental, lovesick 
effusions, which turned the heads of girls, fifty years 
ago. But even the best of novels should form the rec- 
reation rather than the employment of the mind ; they 
should only be read now and then. They are a sort of 
literary confectionary; and, though they may be very 
perfect and beautiful, if eaten too plentifully, they do 
tend to destroy our appetite for more solid and nour- 
ishing food. The same remarks apply, in a less degree, 
to children's forming the habit of reading nothing but 
stories, which are, in fact, little novels. To prevent 
an exclusive and injurious taste for fiction, it is well to 
encourage in them a love of History, Voyages, Travels, 
Biography, &c. It may be done by hearing them read 
such books, or reading with them, frequently talking 
about them, and seeming pleased if they remember suf- 
ficiently well to give a good account of what they have 
read. Sir William Jones, who had perhaps a greater 
passion for knowledge than any other mortal, and who, 
of course, became extensively useful and celebrated, 
says, that when he asked questions about anything, his 
mother used to say to him, ' Read your book, and you 
will know.' Being an intelligent and judicious woman, 
she took pains to procure such volumes as would satisfy 
his inquiries ; and in this way his love of books became 
an intense passion ; he resorted to them as the thirsty 
do to a fountain. This anecdote furnishes a valuable 
hint. I am aware that all cannot afford to buy books 
freely ; but I believe there are very few in this land of 
abundance, who do not spend in the superfluities of dress 

88 the mother's book. 

and the table, more than enough to purchase a valuable 
library. Besides, ample means of information are now 
furnished the public by social libraries, juvenile libra- 
ries, lyceums, &c. 1 can hardly suppose it possible 
that any person can really want a book, in this country, 
without being able to obtain it. Such being the case, 
it certainly is easy to follow the example of Sir William 
Jones's mother. For instance, a cold, stinging day in 
winter would naturally lead a child to say, ' I wonder 
how people can live near the poles ; where my geogra- 
phy says they have six months of night and winter.' 
Here is a good opportunity for a parent to reply, ' I will 
get a book about Polar Regions, and you shall read to 
me, after you have learned your lessons ; if I am busy, 
and cannot hear you, you must read by yourself, and 
tell me about it.' 

It is by seizing hold of such incidents as these, that 
a real love of knowledge may be instilled. The habit 
of having the different members of a family take turns 
to read aloud, while the others are at work, is extremely 
beneficial. It is likewise an excellent plan for young 
people to give a familiar account, in writing, of what 
they have read, and to make their ow r n remarks upon 
the subject freely ; but these juvenile productions should 
never be shown out of the family, or praised in an ex- 
aggerated manner, likely to excite vanity; and if one 
child is more gifted than another, care should be taken 
to bestow the greatest share of encouragement on the 
one that needs it most. I wish the habit of reading 
the purest and best authors aloud was more frequent 
in our schools. I know not how it is, girls learn an 
abundance of things, but they do not acquire a love pf 

the mother's book. 89 

reading. I know very few young ladies, among those 
esteemed thoroughly educated, to whom a book is really 
a pleasanter resource than visiting, dress, and frivolous 
conversation. Their understanding may have been well 
drilled in certain sciences ; but knowledge has no place 
in their affections. The result is, that what they have 
learned at school is gradually forgotten, instead of be- 
ing brought into constant use in after life. Like soldiers 
on parade day, they go through a certain routine, and 
then throw by their accoutrements as things useless for 
.anything but parade. The fact is, we should always 
begin with the affections. What we love to do, we ac- 
complish through all manner of obstacles ; but what we 
do not love to do is uphill work, and will not be per- 
formed if it can be avoided. If a fondness for books be 
once imbibed, it is plain enough that the understanding 
will soon be enlightened on all interesting subjects ; and 
a person who reads, as he drinks water when he is 
thirsty, is the least likely of all men to be pedantic : in 
all things, affectation is fond of making a greater show 
than reality. I once heard a woman in mixed company 

say, ' My dear Mrs. , how can you play whist ? I 

cannot possibly give my attention to such trifling things ; 
if I attempt it, my mind is immediately abstracted.' 
I at once set her down for a fool and a pedant. I should 
not have been afraid to risk a fortune that she had no 
real love of knowledge. Nature and truth have never 
learned to blow the trumpet, and never will. The lady 
whom she addressed was really intelligent and well- 
informed ; she did not love to play whist, but she very 
good-naturedly consented to it, because her hostess 
could not otherwise make up the number requisite for 


the game ; knowledge was the food of her mind, not 
its decoration. Miss Edgeworth has very beautifully 
remarked, 'We are disgusted when we see a woman's 
mind overwhelmed with a torrent of learning ; that the 
tide of literature has passed over it, should be betrayed 
only by its general fertility.'* And this will be the re- 
sult, if books are loved as a resource, and a means of 
usefulness, not as affording opportunity for display. 

I have said that reading works of fiction too much, 
tends to destroy a relish for anything more solid, and 
less exciting ; but I would suggest that the worst possi- 
ble thing that can be done is to prohibit them entirely, 
or to talk against them with undue severity. This 
always produces a fidgetty desire to read them ; and 
unless the principles are very strong, they will be read 
by stealth. Direct prohibitions, though unquestionably 
necessary at times, are not likely to do great good, be- 
cause they appeal to the understanding without being 
grounded in the heart. The best way is to allow the 
occasional perusal of novels, which are pure in spirit and 
in language. When a taste is once formed for the best 
novels, silly, lackadaisical ones will have no charm — 
they will not be read from choice. In this instance, as 
in others of more importance, evil is prevented from en- 
tering, by finding the mind occupied with good. Many 
readers, and writers too, think any book is proper for 
young people, which has a good moral at the end ; but 
the fact is, some books, with a long excellent moral, have 
the worst possible effect on a young mind. — The moral- 
ity should be in the book, not. tacked upon the end of 
it. Vices the juvenile reader never heard of, are intro- 
duced, dressed up in alluring characters, which excite 


their admiration, their love, their deepest pity ; and then 
they are told that these heroes and heroines were very 
naughty, and that in the end they were certain to die 
despised and neglected. 

What is the result ? The generous bosom of youth 
pities the sinners, and thinks the world was a cruel 
world to despise and neglect them. Charlotte Temple 
has a nice good moral at the end, and I dare say was 
written with the best intention, yet I believe few works 
do so much harm to girls of fourteen or fifteen. 

I doubt whether books which represent vice, in any 
way, are suitable to be put into the hands of those, 
whose principles are not formed. It is better to paint 
virtue to be imitated, than vice to be shunned. Famil- 
iarity with evil is a disadvantage, even when pointed out 
as an object of disgust. It is true that evil must come 
in the way of the young ; they will find it in books, and 
they will find plenty of it in the world. It would be 
useless to attempt always to keep such volumes out of 
the way ; but I would, as far as possible, avoid them 
when a child is young, and his mind is comparatively 
empty. After his principles and taste are formed, he 
will view such descriptions as he ought. I do not ap- 
prove of stories about naughty children ; they suggest 
a thousand little tricks and deceptions, which would 
not otherwise be thought of. A small book by a very 
excellent writer appears to me liable to this objection ; 
I refer to Adelaide, or Stories for Children, by a Lady 
of Philadelphia.* 

* In justice to one of the very best of American writers, I would re- 
mark that the book in question has no other fault than being about naught j 
children. It is very natural and entertaining. - 


92 the mother's book. 

Children, especially girls, should not read anything 
without a mother's knowledge and sanction ; this is par- 
ticularly necessary between the ages of twelve and six- 
teen, when the feelings are all jfervent and enthusiastic, 
and the understanding is not strengthened by experience 
and observation. At this period, the mind and heart 
are very active, and parents should take peculiar care 
to furnish them with plenty of innocent employment. 

I had almost forgotten to mention the prejudice which 
some people have against all manner of fairy stories and 
fables, simply upon the ground that they are not strictly 
true. The objection does not seem to me a forcible 
one ; because I do not believe children ever think they 
are true. During my own childhood, I am very su^ 1 
regarded them as just what they were, — as efforts of 
the imagination — dreams that had a meaning to them. 
I do object to reading many of these things ; for they 
are the novels of infancy, and have a similar effect, 
though in a less degree. All frightful and monstrous 
fairy stories are indeed abominable ; but I do not believe 
that Cinderilla, or the Glass Slipper, ever injured any 
child. With regard to fables, children do not believe 
that dogs, foxes, and birds, talk to each other; nor do 
they think that the writer intended they should believe 
it ; therfore it cannot be injurious to their love of truth. 
No child, who reads those pretty little verses beginning 

1 Come up into my chamber/ said the spider to the fly, — 
' 'Tis the prettiest little chamber that ever you did spy ! ; 

believes that the spider actually talked to the fly. 
Children understand the moral it is intended to convey 
perfectly well ; they know that it means we should not 

the mother's book, 93 

allow the flattery or solicitations of others to tempt us 
to what is improper and dangerous. Fables and fairy 
stories, which contain a clear and simple moral, have, I 
think, a good tendency ; but care should be taken to as* 
certain whether the little readers understand the moral, 
and to explain it clearly to them, if they do not. 

Imagination was bestowed upon us by the Great 
Giver of all things, and unquestionably was intended to 
be cultivated in a fair proportion to the other powers of 
the mind. Excess of imagination has, I know, done 
incalculable mischief; but that is no argument against a 
moderate cultivation of it; the excess of all good things 
is mischievous, 

A strong reason why we should indulge children in 
reading some of the best fairy-stories and fables, and 
young people in reading some of the best novels, is, 
that we cannot possibly help their getting hold of some 
books of this description ; and it is never wise to forbid 
what we cannot prevent : besides, how much better it 
is that their choice should be guided by a parent, than 
left to chance. 

The extreme fondness for fairy legends indicates an 
origin deeply laid in some law of our being. Probably, 
it is merely a grotesque form of the universal conscious- 
ness that the earthly and the visible are constantly and 
intimately connected with the spiritual and the unseen. 
Whatever may be the cause, such a book as The Ara- 
bian Nights charms all sorts of youthful readers, all the 
world over. Its extravagant fancies are probably as 
harmless as are pictures of trees changing into men, or 


rocks making up faces like monkeys. They are under 
stood to be extravagances, and are enjoyed as such. 

The love of fiction is likewise founded in an univer- 
sal instinct ; and all universal instincts of human nature 
should be wisely employed, rather than forcibly repressed. 
They are like powerful waters, which, if dammed up in 
one place, will surely overleap their barriers in another. 
Our eager desire to obtain insight into another's being r 
makes autobiography intensely interesting to all classes 
of readers ; and novels derive their charm from the same 
source. That which biography gives to* us in outliney 
the novelist fills up y by the power of imagination, guided 
by experience. We see ourselves reflected in the char- 
acters that most interest us. Thus have we hoped and 
loved, sinned and suffered. A mirror for the face has a 
bewitching attraction for all nations ; what wonder then 
that a mirror for the soul is so generally fascinating ? It 
is the business of a judicious parent to guide this instinct 
aright, and thus make it productive of genuine culture,. 
as well as of amusement. The profligate and strongly- 
exciting works, with which our circulating libraries are 
overrun, operate on the mind as alcohol does on the 
body; but this intellectual intoxication produces effects 
more difficult to cure, than its type in the physical sys- 
tem. For this reason, the works of Byron, Bulwer y 
Eugene Sue, &c, ought never to be read, till the princi- 
ples and taste are thoroughly formed on wiser and better 
models. Yet a peremptory prohibition of such works 
seems to me injudicious and hazardous. In one of my 
last conversations with the lamented Dr. Channing, he 
told me that he never deemed it wise to forbid his chil- 

the mother's book. 95 

flren anything they were very eager to see or heaT. He 
said he would not put in their way books, the tendency 
of which he disapproved ; and if they came in their way, 
lie would endeavor to set them aside, if it could be done 
without stimulating curiosity. But if he found his child 
eager on the subject, he would say, ** My son, I do not 
like this book ; but since you desire to read it, let us read 
it together, and see whether it makes a similar impres- 
sion on your mind.' In the course of the reading, this 
wise father would take frequent opportunities for inci- 
dental commentaries, and free discussion. He would 
remark upon what he considered immoral, irrational, 
unnatural, or untrue. If the lad did not accept these 
observations as just, his father would listen kindly and 
^respectfully to all the reasons he had to offer, and an- 
swer them with perfect candor. Thus were dangerous 
hooks disarmed of their power to injure, while the bond 
between parent and child was strengthened. 

The wisest way to create a distaste for sickly works of 
fiction, is early to form a taste for those which are pure 
and healthy. Highest in this class stand the admirable 
writings of Frederika Bremer. She brings before us hu- 
man life, with all its simple enjoyments, its practical diffi- 
culties, its unsatisfied aspirations, its every-day tempta- 
tions ; and she leads us into it all, with the love and 
insight of an angel. The coloring of all her sweet domes- 
tic pictures, is revealed in the rich sunlight of a deep spir- 
ituality. The moral is not appended or inlaid, but fused 
with the whole mass. In the daily actions of her heroes 
and heroines, self-sacrifice and religious trust shine forth 
with such unpretending beauty, that they win their way 


deeper into the soul, than the utterance of the wisest 
oracles. It has been justly said that * her powers of 
observation are most acute and rapid ; she detects at a 
glance the follies and oddities of the great world, and 
gives them to us with good-humored and graceful satire ;~ 
but her home is in the soul — there, in the still chamber,, 
to watch and describe the struggle of purity against 
temptation, energy against indolence, aspiration against 
despondency.' The great charm of this popular writer 
is, that she is deeply religious, without being theolo*- 

Mary Howitt's writings have similar attractions, aris- 
ing from their simplicity and naturalness,, their childlike 1 
love of all things in woods and fields, and their affec- 
tionate sympathy with the common wants and woes of 
humanity ; but though the religious sentiment is every- 
where present, there is not such deep spirituality, such 
close communion with the interior of the soul, as in; 
Frederika Bremer. 

Miss Edge worth's books, so long and so universally 
known, can never be otherwise than established favor- 
ites. They are admirably constructed as stories, and 
are full of practical good sense* philosophic discrimina- 
tion, felicitous illustration, and pure morality; but the 
sentiment of worship is absent.. There is nothing in 
opposition to religion ; it simply is not there. It was- 
once beautifully said, * Her system of education has 
helped the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. If she 
had only said, " Arise in the name of Jesus," the miracle 
would have been complete.' 

Catharine M. Sedgwick is another writer, whose 

the mother's book. 97 

name alone is a sufficient guarantee that the book is safe 
for young people. Her pages offer no sickly sentimen- 
tality, no unhealthy excitement, but quiet, pleasant pic- 
tures of life, drawn by a wise and kind observer. The 
moral teachings are excellent ; everywhere pervaded by 
the genial spirit of that true democracy, which rests on 
the Christian religion as its basis. 

Walter Scott's works are valuable to be read in con- 
nection with history, presenting, as they do, a lively pic- 
ture gallery of the manners, costumes, and superstitions 
of the past. They aim at no high spirituality, and 
should be accepted for what they are ; fresh and beauti- 
ful paintings of man's outward life, in times of stirring 
and romantic incident. The author's social position 
Induced a spirit of conservatism, obvious on every page. 
When he would dignify any of the commonality, he is 
prone to represent their virtues as the growth of loyal 
adherence to their masters, rather than of fidelity to 
their own souls. The attention of the youthful reader 
should be drawn to this, simply as illustrative of the 
influences operating on the author's mind. Indeed, there 
never was a book printed, in the perusal of which the 
young mi^ht not be greatly benefitted by the compan- 
ionship of a judicious parent, or some older friend, free 
as possible from sectarian and political prejudices, and 
desirous to present the truth candidly. 

There is one mistake in books, almost universal, 
against which the young should be guarded by the ex- 
perienced ; and that is, the tendency to represent good- 
ness as generally rewarded by praise and success in this 
world. It stimulates selfishness, and the experience of 


life is sure to prove it a delusion. To this false expecta- 
tion, and consequent disappointment,, may be traced the 
early weariness and discouragement of many in benevo- 
lent efforts. The reward for disinterestedness must be 
found in spiritual growth and inward peace, not in out- 
ward prosperity, or lavish gratitude. ' My kingdom/ 
says Christ, 'is not of this world.' The lure held out 
by books, under the name of * poetical justice/ may help 
to attract the youthful mind to some extra exertion and 
self-sacrifice; but the reaction produced by experience 
deadens the generous sympathies, which might have 
been kept alive by the presentation of a purer motive. 
Never were truer words than the Spanish proverb, ' All 
lies, like chickens, come home to roost.' 

To be an intelligent English reader, one should be 
well acquainted with the ancients. Much of our float- 
ing literature might be profitably set aside to give leisure 
for Plutarch's Lives and Anarcharsis' Travels. But it 
seems to me that this class of reading peculiarly requires 
guidance. The heroes of a past age are by no means 
models for this, and to present them to the youthful 
mind as great men, without comment, has always 
seemed to me unwise. Ulysses, for example, is pre- 
sented to the classical scholar as the wisest of the 
Greeks ; as ' wise as Ulysses ' has passed into prover- 
bial speech ; yet what a cunning, lying knave he was ! 
It is not easy to calculate the moral results of such inci- 
dental teaching. Modern defalcation and repudiation 
may be more nearly connected with it than we imagine. 
Unquestionably the young student should be made ac- 
quainted with Ulysses ; for every fact in the history of 

the mother's booie. '99 

man is significant and useful. But he should be looked 
-at in the light of Christianity, though not tried by its 
standard; for that would be unjust to him. The parent 
should speak of Ulysses as he was, both in his greatness 
and his defects; and sum up by remarking that such 
was the product of the theology and government of those 
times, and such their ideas of wisdom; for they had 
never heard the teachings of him who said, ' Except ye 
become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom 
of heaven.' 

Deeply impressed as I am with the rationality and 
holiness of perfect forgiveness of injuries, I could not 
allow a child of mine to read any history, or biographies 
of statesmen or warriors, without a running commentary, 
made by the continual application of the Christian stand- 
ard. Violence and bloodshed will linger much longer 
on the earth, for want of these precautions in education. 
Yet whosoever would do this work wisely, must first 
have the principles of peace clearly defined in his own 
mind. The education of a young immortal is indeed a 
fearful responsibility. 

This allusion to war reminds me of Dymond's Prin- 
ciples of Morality ; a volume which seems to me to be 
indeed a ' diamond in the desert.' I know of no other 
book of ethics that so consistently and uniformly applies 
the Christian standard to all the relations of life. Caro- 
line M. Kirkland has done the public good service by 
abridging this excellent work for the use of families and 
schools. I think it will indicate a considerable step in 
human progress, when this book casts out Paley from 
our seminaries of learning. 


But it is not enough that we introduce pure and ele- 
vated books into our families. If we would have them 
produce their full effect on our children, we must be 
careful that our own daily habits and incidental conver- 
sation are not at discord with them. To many families 
the following remarks by Frederika Bremer are but too 
applicable : 

« The daughters of the house were taught that all 
pomp and pleasure of this world was only vanity ; that 
nothing was important and worth striving after, but vir- 
tue and unblemished worth. Yet, for all this, it so hap- 
pened that the most lively interest and endeavors, and 
the warmest wishes of the hearts of all, were directed to 
wealth, rank, and worldly fortune of every kind. The 
daughters were taught that in all things the will of God 
must direct them; yet in every instance they were 
guided by the fear of man. They were taught that 
beauty was of no value ; yet they were often compelled 
to feel, and that painfully, in the paternal house, that 
they were not handsome. They were allowed to culti- 
vate some talents, and acquire some knowledge, but God 
forbid that they should ever become learned women ; on 
which account, they learned nothing thoroughly ; though 
in many instances they pretended to knowledge, without 
possessing anything of its spirit, its nourishing strength, 
or its esteem-inspiring earnestness. But above all 
things, they learned, and this only more and more pro- 
foundly the more their years increased, that marriage 
was the goal of their being ; and in consequence thereof, 
(though this was never inculcated in words,) to esteem 


€he favoT of man as the highest happiness ; denying all 
the time that they thought so.' 

Few things have a greater tendency to produce refine- 
ment than good poetry. It is therefore wise to cultivate 
a taste for it, by encouraging children to commit to 
memory such verses as are at once attractive in style, 
and healthy in their moral tone, Wordsworth and 
Mary Hewitt have written several that are peculiarly 
well adapted to this purpose. American poets, too, 
have furnished many a gem for the delight of childhood. 
If these things can be sung as well as said, it adds 
another innocent delight to life, another attraction to 
home. In the choice of tunes, care should be taken not 
to overstrain the childish voice, and thus injure its future 
sweetness. Still more care should be taken in the selec- 
tion of songs. The early writings of Thomas Moore 
ought to be avoided, like poison concealed in honey- 
<lew; especially at that romantic age when the young 
heart begins to swell with undefined yearnings and 
aspirations, like the flower-bud bursting from its calyx. 
Moore himself would gladly recall many of these effu- 
sions, which have gone the wide world over, on the 
wings of music. A friend once inquired at what time 
he began to regret the publication of these voluptuous 
songs. ' When I had a daughter old -enough to read 
them,' was the reply. 

It may perhaps assist some inexperienced parents to 
mention a few of those books which appear to me most 
valuable for young people. The list is, of course, very 
imperfect, because my limits make it necessary that it 
should be brief. I doubtless omit very many that de- 


serve commendation ; but I mention none which do not 
appear to me excellent of their kind. 

For Children Four or Five Years Old. 

Mrs. Barbauld's Lessons for Children. All unite 
in cordially approving this lady's writings. Good sense 
is clothed in very attractive simplicity, and the thoughts^ 
are continually directed to God,, as the Giver of all that 
we enjoy. 

Mamma's Lessons. An uncommonly excellent little 

Original Poems for Infant Minds. By Jane Tay- 
lor. The books of this author are among the best.. 
They are beautifully written, and a mild spirit of reli- 
gion pervades them all. 

Rhymes for the Nursery. By the same author- 
This is very fascinating to little children. 

Early Lessons. By Maria Edgeworth. 

Hollo Learning to Talk. 

Nursery Songs. By Eliza L. Follen, author of 
Married Life. 

For Children Five or Six Years Old.. 

Mrs. Barbauld's Prose Hymns. In this volume, 
religious sublimity is clothed in child-like simplicity. 

Harry and Lucy. Frank. Rosamond. By Maria 
Edgeworth. These books will maintain their place in 
juvenile libraries as long as the language lasts. 

Mrs. Trimmer's Introduction to the Knowledge. 


of Nature. Mrs. Trimmer is an excellent writer of 
juvenile books. Her influence is very pure. 

Stories for Children in Familiar Verse. Ditties 
for Children. By Nancy Sproat. The familiar, sim- 
ple style of this writer is very attractive to little folks. 
Parents who are strongly opposed to Calvinism, may 
here and there find a verse to which they would object. 

Hollo Learning to Read. 

For Children Seven or Fight Years Old. 

Frank, continued. Harry and Lucy, continued. 
By Maria Edge worth. 

Pleasing Stories. Stories for Children. Aunt 
Mary's Tales for Boys. Aunt Mary's Tales for 
Girls. By Mrs. Hughs. 

Rollo at Play. Rollo at School. Rollo at Work. 

Berquin's Children's Friend. A favorite of long 

Adventures of Congo in Search of his Master. 
This is very popular with young readers. 

The Robins. By Mrs. Trimmer. A great favorite 
with children. 

The Mirror. By Miss Leslie. A pleasant, sensi- 
ble book. 

The Story without an End. A very poetic little 
volume, which leads the young soul joyously forth into 
Nature, where he is spoken to with a welcoming voice 
by all things. 



Sketches of Natural History, in Verse. Tales n* 
Verse, By Mary Howitt. 

Robert Fowle. James Talbot, By Miss Savage. 
Uncommonly good. 

For Children Nine or Ten Years Old. 

The Parent's Assistant. By Maria Edgeworth. 
This is composed of admirable stories, such as Simple 
Susan, Forgive and Forget, &c. 

Evenings at Home. By Mrs. Barbauld, and her 
Brother, Dr. Aiken. A work of first rate merit. 

Mrs. Leicester's School. By Charles Lamb and- 
his Sister. Mary Howitt calls this ' a charming book, 
written perfectly in the spirit of childhood.' 

The Girl's Own Book ; by Mrs. Child. The Amer- 
ican Girl's Book ; by Miss Leslie. These books are 
very acceptable to girls. They are full of games, rid- 
dles, instructions for various kinds of work, play, &c. 

Boy's Own Book. An encyclopedia of boyish sports 
and experiments. 

Hollo's Travels. Eollo's Experiments. Rollo's 
Museum. The Rollo Books, by Jacob Abbott, have 
found universal favor, both with parents and children. 
They relate, in very simple and familiar style, the every- 
day trials and temptations of juvenile life. They are 
well calculated to impart clear ideas of right and wrong, 
to encourage habits of observation, and form characters 
of plain practical common sense. 

the mother's book. 105 

For Children Eleven and Twelve Years Old. 

Moral Tales. By Maria Edgeworth. 

Sequel to Frank. Sequel to Harry and Lucy. 
By the same. 

Sandford and Merton. By Mr. Day. A great fa- 
vorite with boys. 

Ellen the Teacher. By Mrs. Hofland. An ex- 
cellent book. 

The Twin Sisters. By Miss Sandham. A reli- 
gious, good book. 

Birds and Flowers. By Mary Howitt. The love 
of nature, and of all simple, gentle things, taught by this 
charming volume, is well calculated to keep the heart 
forever fresh and young. Except religion, and the love 
of a happy home, there is no blessing to the human soul, 
so great and so abiding, as delight in all common forms 
of beauty ; a joyful companionship with birds and squir- 
rels, mosses, pebbles, and ferns. 

Life and Maxims of William Penn. By Mrs. 

The Young Emigrants. This book, understood to 
be written by Mrs. Sedgwick, is extremely entertaining 
and instructive. In a lively narrative of adventures at 
the West, it teaches the important lesson that there is no 
education equal to the education of circumstances, and 
no way to quicken the faculties, like bringing them into 
constant use. 

The Travellers. By Catharine M. Sedgwick. 


Tales of a Grandfather. By Walter Scott. 

Robinson Crusoe. Abridged from Defoe. A book 
universally fascinating, but not altogether a safe stimu- 
lus for a boy of a rambling and adventurous spirit. 

The Swiss Family Robinson. A sensible and popu- 
lar book. 

For Young Persons of Thirteen and Fourteen. 

Popular Tales. By Maria Edgeworth. 

Display. By Jane Taylor. An admirable book for 
girls of this age. 

The Cottagers of Glenburnie. By Miss Hamil- 
ton. Full of practical good sense and religious benevo- 

Home. Ends and Means. The Poor Rich Man. 
By Catharine M. Sedgwick. Most excellent and 
pleasant books. 

Strive and Thrive. Hope On and Hope Ever. 
Little Coin Much Care. Work and Wages. By 
Mary Howitt. Genial and healthy in morals, and 
very attractive. 

It is of very great importance that children should 
perfectly understand what they read. They should be 
encouraged to give clear and distinct accounts of what 
they have read ; and when you are doubtful whether 
they know the meaning of a word, be sure to ask them. 
If you yourself dp not know, do not hesitate to say so, 


and refer them to the dictionary. Some people think 
it diminishes respect to acknowledge ignorance ; but 
the fear is unfounded. Good sense and good judgment 
command respect, whether they are accompanied by 
great extent of information, or not. No child ever 
respected a judicious parent less for saying, ' "When I 
was young, I did not have such opportunities for learn- 
ing as you have ; but I know how to value knowledge ; 
and that makes me so anxious you should learn.' 

The habit, which I recommended in the third chapter, 
of directing the attention of very little children to sur- 
rounding objects, lays an excellent foundation for obtain- 
ing clear and accurate ideas of what is read. The same 
habit of observation, that leads them to remark whether 
a thing is round or square, likewise leads them to attend 
to the sense of what they find in books. 

I believe the multitude of little books generally put 
into the hands of children are an injury, rather than a 
benefit. Juvenile ideas are rapid and transient ; and a 
repetition of the same thoughts makes them familiar and 
distinct. Ideas produce such a transient impression upon 
the mind of an infant, that he is never weary of hearing 
the same old story, over and over again ; it is always 
new to him, because he forgets it as soon as it is repeated. 
The same remark is true, in different degrees, of all the 
various stages of childhood. It is better to read one 
book and understand it perfectly, tban to read a dozen 
and understand them imperfectly. It is astonishing how 
much pleasure and information are lost by careless 
readers. An instructer once said to me, ' I heard a 


young lady read The Abbot, by Sir Walter Scott. 
When she had finished, I tried to persuade her to tell 
me what she thought of it, and what she remembered. 
" Why, after all," she replied, " Scott does not tell 
whether Queen Mary had sandy hair, or dark hair. I 
was in hopes he would, for I always wanted to know." 
This girl was naturally bright and intelligent; but she 
had not been accustomed to attend to anything, except 
what related to dress and personal appearance. The 
descriptions of Scottish scenery, the workings of religious 
prejudice, the intrigues of political faction, the faithful 
pictures of life and manners, were all lost upon her. 
She did not observe them, because she had never formed 
the habit of observing. She read through these two 
volumes, so full of historical interest, without feeling 
interested in anything but the color of Queen Mary's 

Had she never read more than half a dozen books in 
her life, and been called upon to give a faithful account 
of them, it would have been impossible for her to be so 
entirely unobserving of the beauties of that admirable 

To conclude, I would suggest that it is better to have 
a few good books than many middling ones. It is not 
well for young people to have a great variety. If there 
are but few books in the house, and those are interest- 
ing, they will be read over and over again, and well 
remembered. A perpetual succession of new works 
induces a habit of reading hastily and carelessly ; and, 
of course, their contents are either forgotten, or jum- 


bled up in the memory in an indistinct and useless 

Franklin said wisely, * Any book that is worth read- 
ing once, is worth reading twice ;' and there is much 
good sense in the Roman maxim, ' Read much^ but do 
not read many books, £* 



In politeness, as in many other things connected with 
the formation of character, people in general begin out- 
side, when they should begin inside ; instead of begin- 
ning with the heart, and trusting that to form the man- 
ners, they begin with the manners, and trust the heart 
to chance influences. The golden rule contains the 
very life and soul of politeness. Children may be taught 
to make a graceful courtesy, or a gentlemanly bow, — 
but, unless they have likewise been taught to abhor 
what is selfish, and always prefer another's comfort and 
pleasure to their own, their politeness will be entirely 
artificial, and used only when it is their interest to use 

* Pliny, who gave this advice, lived long before the invention of 
printing; if such a precaution were necessary then, what would he 
say now? 


it. On the other hand, a truly benevolent, kind- 
hearted person will always be distinguished for what is 
called native politeness, though entirely ignorant of the 
conventional forms of society. 

I by no means think graceful manners of small im- 
portance. They are the outward form of refinement in 
the mind, and good affections in the heart ; and as such 
must be lovely. But when the form exists without the 
vital principle within, it is as cold and lifeless as flowers 
carved in marble. 

Politeness, either of feeling or of manner, can never 
be taught by set maxims. Every-day influence, so un- 
consciously exerted, is all important in forming the char- 
acters of children : and in nothing more important than 
in their manners. If you are habitually polite, your 
children will become so, by the mere force of imitation, 
without any specific directions on the subject. Your 
manners at home should always be such as you wish 
your family to have in company. Politeness will then 
be natural to them ; they will possess it without thinking 
about it. But when certain outward observances are 
urged in words, as important only because they make 
us pleasing, they assume an undue importance, and the 
umvorthiness of the motive fosters selfishness. Besides, 
if our own manners are not habitually consistent with 
the rules we give, they will be of little avail ; they will 
in all probability be misunderstood, and will certainly 
be forgotten. I, at this moment, recollect an anecdote, 
which plainly shows that politeness cannot be shuffled 
on at a moment's warning, like a garment long out of 
use. A worthy, but somewhat vulgar woman, residing 
in a secluded village, expected a visit from strangers of 


Some distinction. On the spur of the occasion, she 
called her children together, and said, c After I have 
dressed you up, you must sit very still, till the company 
comes ; and then you must be sure to get up and make 
your bows and courtesies ; and you must mind and say 
"Yes, ma'am," and "No, ma'am" — "Yes, sir," and 
"No, sir" — "I thank you."' The visitors arrived — 
and the children, seated together like ' four and twenty 
little dogs all of a row,' uprose at once, bobbed their 
bows and courtesies, and jabbered over, c Yes, ma'am — 
no, ma'am — yes, sir — no, sir — I thank you — There, 
mother now we've done it !' 

Foreigners charge us with a want of courtesy to each 
other in our usual intercourse ; and I believe there is 
some truth in the accusation. On all great occasions, 
the Americans are ready, heart and hand, to assist each 
other ; but how much more gracefully and happily the 
French manage in the ten thousand petty occurrences 
of life ! And, after all, life is made up of small events. 
The golden chain of existence is composed of innumer- 
able little links ; and if we rudely break them, we injure 
its strength, as well as mar its beauty. 

The happiest married couples I have ever known 
were those who were scrupulous in paying to each other 
a thousand minute attentions, generally thought too 
trifling to be of any importance ; and yet on these very 
trifles depended their continued love for each other. 
A birth-day present, accompanied with a kind look or 
word — reserving for each other the most luxurious fruit, 
or the most comfortable chair — nay, even the habit of 
always saying, /Will you have the goodness?' and 
'Thank you' — all these seemingly trivial things hnrp a 


great effect on domestic felicity, and on the manners of 
children. Early habits of preferring others to ourselves 
are very important. A child should always be taught 
to give away the largest slice of his apple, or his cake, 
and to take his whistle immediately from his mouth, if 
a sick little brother or sister is anxious for it. I believe 
the easy and natural politeness of the French may in a 
great measure be attributed to their remarkable care in 
forming such early habits of self-denial. 

I cordially approve of the good old fashion of never 
saying ' Yes,' or c No,' to those older than ourselves. It 
appears to me peculiarly proper and becoming for young 
persons always to rise when addressed by those whose 
age or character demands respect. I am surprised to 
see how seldom the young give an aged person the 
inner side of the walk, when they meet in the street ; 
and still more so when I see them unceremoniously push 
by their elders, while entering or leaving a room. 

It is a graceful habit for children to say to each other, 
6 Will you have the goodness ?' — and 1 1 thank you.' I 
do not like to see prim, artificial children ; there are 
few things I dislike so much as a miniature beau, or 
belle. But the habit of good manners by no means 
implies affectation or restraint. It is quite as easy to 
say, * Please to give me a piece of pie/ as to say, ' I want 
a piece of pie.' 

The idea that constant politeness would render social 
life too stiff and restrained, springs from a false estimate 
of politeness. True politeness is perfect ease and free- 
dom. It simply consists in treating others just as you 
love to be treated yourself. A person who acts from 
this principle will always be said to have c sweet pretty 


ways with her.' It is of some consequence that your 
daughter should know how to enter and leave a room 
gracefully ; but it is of prodigiously more consequence 
that she should be in the habit of avoiding whatever is 
disgusting or offensive to others, and of always preferring 
their pleasure to her own. If she has the last, a very 
little intercourse with the world will teach her the first. 

I believe nothing tends to make people so awkward 
as too much anxiety to please others. Nature is grace- 
ful ; and affectation, with all her art, can never produce 
any thing half so pleasing. The very perfection of el- 
egance is to imitate nature as closely as possible ; and 
how much better it is to have the reality than the imi- 
tation ! I shall probably be reminded that the best and 
most unaffected people are. often constrained and awk- 
ward in company to which they are unaccustomed. I 
answer, the reason is, they do not act themselves — they 
are afraid they shall not do right, and that very fear 
makes them do wrong. Anxiety about the opinion of 
others fetters the freedom of nature. At home, where 
they act from within themselves, they would appear a 
thousand times better. All would appear well, if they 
never tried to assume what they did not possess. Every- 
body is respectable and pleasing so long as he is per- 
fectly natural. I will make no exception — Nature is 
always graceful. The most secluded and the most ig- 
norant have some charm about them, so long as they 
affect nothing — so long as they speak and act from the 
impulses of their own honest hearts, without any anxie- 
ty as to what others think of it. 

Coarseness and vulgarity are the effects of education 
and habit ; they cannot be charged upon nature. True 


politeness may be cherished in the hovel as well as in 
the palace ; and the most tattered drapery cannot conceal 
its winning charms. 

As far as is consistent with your situation and duties, 
early accustom your children to an intercourse with 
strangers. I have seen young persons who were re- 
spectful and polite at home, seized with a most painful 
and unbecoming bashfulness, as soon as a guest entered. 
To avoid this evil, allow 7 children to accompany you as 
often as possible, when you make calls and social visits. 
Occasional interviews with intelligent and cultivated 
individuals have a great influence on early character and 
manners, particularly if parents evidently place a high 
value upon acquaintances of that description. 1 have 
known the destiny of a whole family changed for the 
better, by the friendship of one of its members with 
a person of superior advantages and correct principles. 

But it must be remembered that a call, or a social visit, 
may be made almost as injurious as a party, if children 
are encouraged in showing off, or constantly habituated 
to hearing themselves talked about. Much as the failing 
has been observed and laughed at, it is still too common 
for mothers to talk a great deal about their children. 
The weariness with which strangers listen to such do- 
mestic accounts is a slight evil compared with the mis- 
chief done to children, by inducing them to think them- 
selves of so much importance : they should never be 
taught to consider themselves of any consequence, ex- 
cept at home in the bosom of their own families. 

Nothing tends to foster the genuine politeness which 
springs from good feeling, so much as scrupulous atten- 
tion to the aged. There is something extremely 


delightful and salutary in the free and happy intercourse 
of the old and young. The freshness and enthusiasm 
of youth cheers the dreariness of age ; and age can 
return the benefit a hundred fold, by its mild maxims of 
experience and wisdom. In this country, youth and 
age are too much separated ; the young flock together, 
and leave the old to themselves. We seem to act upon 
the principle that there cannot be sympathy between 
these two extremes of life ; whereas there may be, 
in fact, a most charming sympathy — a sympathy 
more productive of mutual benefit than any other in 
the world. 

The aged, from the loneliness of their situation, the 
want of active employment, and an enfeebled state of 
health, are apt to look upon the world with a gloomy 
eye ; and sometimes their gloom is not unmixed with 
bitterness : hence arises the complaint of their harshness 
and asperity towards the follies of youth. These evils, so 
naturally growing out of their isolated situation, would 
seldom gain power over the old, if they were accustomed 
to gentleness, attention, and deference from the young ; 
they would be softened by juvenile love, and cheered 
by juvenile gaiety. Such intercourse sheds a quiet 
brightness on the decline of life, like sunshine on a 
weather-beaten tree, or a moss-covered dwelling. What 
is there on earth more beautiful than an aged person full 
of content and benevolence ! 

In China, it is the custom for young people always to 
stand with head uncovered in the presence of their 
seniors. Perhaps this is carrying the outward forms of 
respect to an inconvenient excess ; but the principle is 
true to nature and goodness. The mere circumstance of 


being old should insure peculiar deference and attention 
even from strangers. It is considered a sign of a good 
heart to love little children ; I think spontaneous kind- 
ness for the aged is a much better proof. I have seen 
gentlemen, who, in mixed companies, always bestowed 
the largest share of attention upon the old and neg- 
lected. — Had I a beloved daughter, I would choose such 
a man for her husband. 

The German custom of giving Christmas presents to 
parents, brothers, and sisters, has a happy influence 
upon the affections, and of course upon the manners. 
The enjoyment is entirely anti-selfish — it consists in 
the experience, that ' it is more blessed to give than to 
receive. 1 What can be purer than the eager pleasure 
of a group of children busy in preparing a gift for a 
parent, and anxious to keep their little secret, in order 
to produce a joyful surprise ? If their offerings are of 
their own manufacture, a double good is produced ; both 
ingenuity and love are excited, and the motive that ex- 
cites them is holy. It has a good effect for parents to 
place a superior value upon whatever children make 
themselves — such as all the varieties of needle-books, 
pin-cushions, boxes, &,c. 

One very prevalent fault among children is a want 
of politeness to domestics. Young people should not, 
from mere whim and caprice, be allowed to make de- 
mands upon the time and patience of those who are 
hired to attend upon the family. They should make 
no unnecessary trouble in the kitchen ; and when they 
ask for anything, they should speak politely — saying, 
* Will you have the goodness?' 'I thank you,' &c. 
Such conduct greatly tends to make domestics more 


respectful, kind, and obliging. Miss Edgeworth, in her 
work on Education, recommends that children should 
never be allowed to speak a single word to a servant ; 
and that they should be kept in a part of the house 
entirely remote, for fear of contamination. Such a sys- 
tem cannot be carried into effect in this country ; and I 
am thankful it cannot. A child cannot know the nature 
of such an injunction, — his inexperienced mind cannot 
form an idea of the frightful and vulgar stories his 
mother dreads his hearing in the kitchen. He is told 
not to talk with the domestics, and he at once conceives 
an idea of superiority, and thinks he is not bound to 
pay any regard to their feelings or happiness. This 
principle is a bad one, under any form of government ; 
but in our country its application is peculiarly prepos- 
terous ; for those who are servants now may be mistresses 
next year ; and those who keep domestics now may be 
domestics hereafter. Still, I think it is very injurious to 
children to form a habit of staying in the kitchen ; not 
on account of anv difference in station, — but because 
we change domestics so frequently in this country, and 
must necessarily be often uncertain as to their habits 
and principles. If I were sure that a girl was conscien- 
tious, and never told vulgar or superstitious stories, I 
should be perfectly willing to trust children of any age 
to her influence. And even if she were a stranger to 
me, I would never forbid a child's going into the 
kitchen, or advise him not to talk with her. I should 
rather he would run the risk of hearing a vulgar, or 
superstitious story, than to infest his spirit with pride. 
But though I would never give children any rules to 
this effect, I would by a silent influence keep them 


with myself as much as possible. I would make the 
parlor pleasant to them — I would supply them with 
interesting employment — I would do everything to 
promote full confidence and companionship between 
them and their parents — I would make the bond 
between brothers and sisters strong, by fostering mutual 
love, by teaching them to speak politely, to act kindly, 
to regard each other's wants, and respect each other's 
property. By these means, the mind and the heart 
would be so occupied, that children would have no 
temptation to spend their evenings in the kitchen. But 
my motive for pursuing such a guarded course, would 
be no idea of superiority (for I acknowledge none, but 
degrees of goodness) ; I would withdraw them from the 
influence of domestics merely because there is a chance 
that such influence will be impure. If I were certain 
of the good principles and judicious conversation of a 
girl, I should not deem precaution necessary. And one 
thing is certain, — a domestic who is worthy of being 
kept in your house, is worthy of being treated with 
kindness and perfect politeness ; and children should 
be early instructed never to speak rudely, or make 
unnecessary demands upon her time and patience. I 
am aware that, there are peculiar difficulties attending 
this relation in our republican country, — there is mutu- 
ally too much jealousy of being encroached upon. But 
it is one of the evils which grow cut of a multitude of 
blessings ; and whether a domestic be ungrateful or not, 
it will be a satisfaction that you have done your duty, 
and taught your children to do theirs. 

In connexion with politeness, I would again allude to 
the great importance of habits of observation. What 


is called native politeness is entirely the result of kind 
feelings combined with habits of attention. Everybody 
has observed that men of the world have a wonderful 
facility in adapting themselves to all varieties of char- 
acter. Their faculty of pleasing everybody seems like 
instinct, yet, in fact, it is merely the result of close ob- 
servation. People who have bad hearts can attain 
this power, and exert it when they choose, from no 
other excitement but vanity, or self-interest. But this 
is no reason why the same power should not be exerted 
to good purposes, and with good motives. 

A ready discrimination of character is attained by 
habits of observation ; and merely from a want of these 
habits, excellent hearted people often make blunders 
painful to themselves and others. We all know by our 
own feelings, that it is not pleasant to have the atten- 
tion of strangers called to any personal defect we 
may have; yet well meaning people will sometimes 
strangely persist in such conversation. — They will not 
only ask what produced a scar, but they will insist upon 
knowing how long you have been troubled with it, 
whether the distemper is hereditary in your family, and 
whether you ever expect it will appear again. It is a 
chance if they do not gratuitously add stories of half a 
dozen individuals, who died of the same disorder, or be- 
stowed it upon their children. 

Some people are singularly perverse in praising such 
qualities as their hearers do not possess, and perhaps 
have no means of possessing. For instance, talking to 
the poor about the great power and influence of wealth, 
— enlarging upon the prodigious advantages of intelli- 
gence and learning to the uneducated — and flying into 


raptures about beauty in presence of the ugly and de- 
formed. Now, in all these instances, a little attention 
to the movements of our own minds would teach us at 
once how to apply the golden rule. 

In our intercourse with others, it should be our object 
to discover what they wish to hear, not what we wish to 
say. Literary people are often unpleasant companions in 
mixed society, because they frequently have not the pow- 
er of adapting themselves to others. They have given 
their attention to books more than to characters ; and they 
talk on such subjects as please themselves, without think- 
ing whether they will please others. What is called 
affectation and pedantry, is half the time mere heedless- 
ness and want of observation. 

Mrs. Madison was esteemed the most thoroughly po- 
lite woman in America. Others might perhaps enter a 
room as gracefully, or superintend at table with as much 
dignity ; the secret of her power lay in her wonderful 
adaptation to all sorts of characters. She was emphat- 
ically an observing woman. As Jefferson had no wife, 
she presided sixteen years at Washington ;* during all 
which time, she is said never to have forgotten the most 
trifling peculiarities of character, that had once come 
under her ooservation : she always remembered them, 
and fashioned her conversation accordingly. Some may 
object to the exercise of this power, lest it should lead to 
insincerity ; and the charge may well be brought against 
that kind of false politeness, which springs merely from a 
love of popularity. Politeness is not the only good 

* When the president has no wife, or daughter, at Washington, the lady 
of the highest officer in the cabinet presides at the mansion on all state 


thing corrupted by an unworthy motive ; all precious 
coins have a counterfeit. When we are polite to others 
entirely for our own saltes, we are deceitful ; nothing 
selfish has truth and goodness in it. But there is such 
a thing as true politeness, always kind, but never de- 
ceitful. It is right to cherish good-will toward all our 
fellow-creatures, and to endeavor to make them as hap- 
py as we conscientiously can. The outward forms of 
politeness are but the expressions of such feelings as 
should be in every human heart. It would be wrong 
to tell people we love them dearly, when in fact we 
know nothing about them ; or to urge them to visit our 
houses, when we do not want to see them. But we are 
bound to be kind and attentive to all our fellow-crea- 
tures, when they come in our way, and to avoid giving 
them any unnecessary pain, by our manners or conver- 

In order to teach children the right sort of polite- 
ness, it must be taught through the agency of a pure 
motive. They should not be taught to observe and re- 
spect the feelings of others for the sake of making them- 
selves pleasing, but merely because it is kind and be- 
nevolent to do so. 

If I saw a child point out the patched or ragged 
garment of a poor companion, I would not say, ' You 
must not laugh at her clothes ; if you do, she will think 
you are proud' — I would say, ' It grieves me very 
much to see you so unkind. If your mother were poor, 
and could not afford to get you new clothes, would it 
not hurt your feelings to be laughed at ? Does not the 
Bible tell you to do to others as you would wish to 

122 " the mother's book. 

have them do to you ? You must observe this precious 
rule in little tilings, as well as in great things.' 

From the foregoing hints, it will be seen that true 
politeness is the spontaneous movement of a good heart 
and an observing mind. Benevolence will teach us 
tenderness towards the feelings of others, and habits of 
observation will enable us to judge promptly and easily 
what those feelings are. 

Outward politeness can be learned in set forms at 
school ; but at the best, it will be hollow and deceptive. 
Genuine politeness, like everything else that is genuine, 
must come from the heart. 



Wherever there is hypocrisy, or an apparent neces- 
sity for hypocrisy, there is something wrong. In the 
management of children, are we sincere on the subject 
of beauty ? When we see a handsome person, or a 
handsome animal, they hear us eagerly exclaim, c Oh, 
how beautiful !' * What a lovely creature !' ' What 
pretty eyes !' ' What a sweet mouth !' &c. Yet when 
children say anything about beauty, we tell them it is of 
no value at all — that they must not think anything 
about beauty — ' handsome is that handsome does,' &c. 

The influence would be very contradictory, did not the 
eagerness of our exclamations and the coldness of our 

the mother's book. 123 

moral lessons both tend to the same result ; they both give 
children an idea that the subject is of great importance. 
* Mother tells me beauty is of no consequence, because 
she thinks I shall be vain ; but I am sure she and every- 
body else seem to think it is of consequence,' said a 
shrewd little girl of ten years old. 

It certainly is natural to admire beauty, whether it 
be in human beings, animals, or flowers ; it is a princi- 
ple implanted within the human mind, and we cannot 
get rid of it. Beauty is the outward form of goodness ; 
and that is the reason we love it instinctively, without 
thinking why we love it. The truth is, beauty is really 
of some consequence ; but of very small consequence 
compared with good principles, good feelings, and 
good understanding. In this manner children ought to 
hear it spoken of. There should be no affected indiffer- 
ence on this or any other subject. If a child should 
say, 6 Everybody loves Jane Snow — she is so pretty,' 
I would answer, c Is Jane Snow a good, kind little girl ? 
I should be pleased with her pretty face, and should 
want to kiss her, when I first saw her ; but if I found 
she was cross and selfish, I should not love her ; and 1 
should not wish to have her about me.' In this way 
the attention will be drawn from the subject of beauty, 
to the importance of goodness ; and there is no affecta- 
tion in the business — the plain truth is told. We do 
love beauty at first sight ; and we do cease to love it, if 
it be not accompanied by amiable qualities. 

Beauty is so much more obvious than the qualities of 
the mind and heart, and meets so much more of spon- 
taneous admiration, that we should be very much on 
our guard against increasing the value of a gift, whicn 

124 the mother's book. 

is almost unavoidably over-rated. But we must re- 
member that our common and involuntary modes of 
speaking are what form the opinions of a child ; moral 
maxims have little, or no effect, if they are in opposi- 
tion to our usual manner of speaking and acting. For 
this reason, I would never call attention to beauty ; and 
if dwelt upon with delighted eagerness by others, I 
would always remark, ' She looks as if she had a sweet 
disposition, or a bright mind,' — thus leading the atten- 
tion from mere outward loveliness to moral and intellec- 
tual beauty. I would even avoid constantly urging a 
child to put on a bonnet, lest she should be tanned. I 
should prefer the simple reason, ' It is proper to 
w r ear a bonnet out of doors ; don't you know mother 
always wears one, when she goes out ?' I would rather 
a girl should have her face tanned and freckled by heat, 
than have her mind tanned and freckled by vanity. 

Perhaps there is no gift with which mortals are en- 
dowed, that brings so much danger as beauty, in propor- 
tion to the usefulness and happiness it produces. It is 
so rare for a belle to be happy, or even contented, af- 
ter the season of youth is past, that it is considered 
almost a miracle. If your daughter is handsome, it is 
peculiarly necessary that she should not be taught to 
attach an undue importance to the dangerous gift ; and 
if she is plain, it certainly is not for her happiness to 
consider it as a misfortune. 

For the reasons above given, I w T ould restrain myself 
in expressing admiration of beauty; and when others 
expressed it, I would always ask, 'Is she good?' Is she 
amiable?' &c. I would even act upon this system to- 
ward a very little child. 1 would not praise the beauty 

the mother's book. 125 

of his kitten ; and if he himself said, 6 Oh, what a 
pretty puss ! How I love her !' I would answer, 
' She is a pretty puss, and a good puss. If she were 
cross, and scratched me every time I touched her, I 
should not love her, though her fur is so pretty.' All 
this caution is perfectly consistent with truth. I would 
never say that beauty was of no consequence in my 
opinion ; because I could not say it truly. 

With regard to dress, as in most other cases, a me- 
dium between two extremes is desirable. A love of 
finery and display is a much more common fault than 
neglect of personal appearance ; both should be avoided. 
Some parents teach their children to judge everybody's 
merit by their dress ; they do not of course say it, in 
so many direct words — but their influence produces that 
effect. What else can be the result of hearing such 

expressions as the following ? — \ Mr. is very much 

of a gentleman ; he is always remarkably well dressed.' 
'Is such a lady a desirable acquaintance? I presume 
she is ; for she is always very genteelly dressed.' 

There are some people, who go to the opposite ex- 
treme, and represent any attention to dress as unworthy 
of a strong mind ; becoming costume is in their eyes a 
mark of frivolity. I hardly know which of the two 
extremes is the worse. Extravagance in dress does 
great mischief both to fortune and character ; but want 
of neatness, and want of taste are peculiarly disgusting. 
IF finery betrays a Frivolous mind, sluttishness and bad 
taste certainly betray an ill-regulated one. Neatness 
and taste naturally proceed From a love oF order. A 
mother should not talk about dress, For the same reasons 
that she should not talk about beauty ; but she should 

126 the mother's book. 

be careful to have her own dress always neat, and well- 
fitted, and to show a pure and delicate taste in the choice 
of colors. By these means, children will form the 
habit of dressing w^ell, without ever thinking much about 
it ; the habit will be so early formed, that it will seem 
like a gift of nature. Miss Hamilton gives, in one short 
sentence, all that can be said upon the subject ; she 
says, ' Always dress in good taste ; but let your children 
see that it employs very little of your time, less of your 
thoughts, and none at all of your affections.' 

The wish to place children in as good society as 
possible is natural and proper ; but it must be remem- 
bered that genteel society is not always good society. 
If your manners and conversation imply more respect 
for wealth than for merit, your children, of course, will 
choose their acquaintance and friends according to the 
style they can support, not according to character. Let 
your family see that you most desire the acquaintance 
of those who have correct principles, good manners, 
and the power of imparting information. I have heard 

mothers say, ' To be sure Mr. and Mrs. do not bear 

a very good character ; but they live in a great deal of 
style ; they give beautiful parties ; and it is very 
convenient to have the friendship of such people.' 
What sort of morality can be expected of a family who 
have been accustomed to such maxims ? What heart- 
less, selfish, unprincipled beings are formed by such 
lessons ! If they do not succeed in attaining the 
splendor they have been taught to covet, they will be 
envious, jealous, and miserable ; if they do attain it, the 
most that can be said is, they will spend their thousands 
in trying to appear happy before the world. 

the mother's book. 127 

Human ambition and human policy labor after hap- 
piness in vain ; goodness is the only foundation to build 
upon. The wisdom of past ages declares this truth , 
and our own observation confirms it ; all the world 
acknowledge it; yet how few, how very few, are 
willing to act upon it ! We say we believe goodness 
is always happiness, in every situation of life, and that 
happiness should be our chief study ; we know that 
wealth and distinction do not bring happiness ; but we are 
anxious our children should possess them, because they 
appear to confer enjoyment. What a motive for 
immortal beings ! 

If the inordinate love of wealth and parade be not 
checked among us, it will be the ruin of our country, 
as it has been, and will be, the ruin of thousands of 
individuals. What restlessness, what discontent, what 
bitterness, what knavery and crime, have been produced 
by this eager passion for money ! Mothers ! as you 
love your children, and wish for their happiness, be 
careful how you cherish this unquiet spirit, by speaking 
and acting as if you thought wealth the greatest good. 
Teach them to consider money valuable only for its 
use ; and that it confers respectability only when it is 
used well. Teach them to regard their childish 
property as things held in trust for the benefit and 
pleasure of their companions — that the only purpose 
of having anything to call their own is that they may 
use it for the good of others. If this spirit were more 
inculcated, we should not hear children so often say, 
1 Let that alone ; it is mine, and you sha'n't have it.' 
Neither should we see such a" orincipled scrambling 

128 the mother's book. 

for wealth — such willingness to cast off the neares; 
and dearest relations in the pursuit of fashion — such 
negkct of unfortunate merit — and such servile adula- 
tion to successful villany. I will not mention religion, 
— for its maxims have nothing in common with worldly 
and selfish policy, — I will simply ask what republican- 
ism there is in such rules of conduct ? 

But there are always two sides to a question. If it 
is pernicious to make money and style the standard of 
respectability, it is likewise injurious and wrong to foster 
a prejudice against the wealthy and fashionable. If we 
experience the slightest degree of pleasure in discover- 
ing faults or follies in those above us, there certainly is 
something wrong in our own hearts. Never say to year 
family, c Such a one feels above us ' — ' Such a one is too 
proud to come and see us ' — &c. In the first place, 
perhaps it is not true ; (for I know by experience that 
the poor are apt to be unreasonably suspicious of the 
rich ; they begin by being cold and proud to their 
wealthy acquaintance, for fear the wealthy mean to be 
cold and proud to them ;) and even if it be true that a 
rich neighbor is haughty, or even insolent, you should 
be careful not to indulge bad passions, because he does. 
Your business is with your own heart — keep that pure 
— and measure out to the rich man, as well as the poor 
man, just as much of respect and regard as their charac- 
ters deserve, and no more. 

Do not suffer your mind to brood over the external 
distinctions of society. Neither seek nor avoid those 
who are superior in fortune ; meet them on the same 
ground as you do the rest of your fellow-creatures. 

the mother's book, 129 

There is a dignified medium between cringing for notice, 
and acting like a cat that puts up her back and spits, 
when no dog is coming. 

Perhaps I say more on this subject than is necessary 
or useful I am induced to say it, from having closely 
observed the effect produced on society by the broad 
and open field of competition in this country. All 
blessings are accompanied with disadvantages ) and it 
is the business of the judicious to take the good and 
leave the evil. In this country, every man can make 
his own station. This is indeed a blessing. But 
what are some of the attendant dangers? Look at 
that parent, who is willing to sacrifice her comfort, her 
principles, nay, even her pride, for the sake of pushing 
her children into a little higher rank of life. 

Look at another, too independent for such a course. 
-Hear how he loves to rail about the aristocracy — 
how much pleasure he takes in showing contempt of 
the rich. Is his own heart right ? I fear not. I fear that 
unbending independence, so honorable in itself, is mixed 
with a baser feeling. The right path is between ex- 
tremes. I would never creep under a door, neither 
would I refuse to enter when it was opened wide for 
my reception. 

Poverty and wealth have different temptations, but 
they are equally strong. The rich are tempted to pride 
and insolence ; the poor to jealousy and envy. The 
envious and discontented poor invariably become haughty 
and overbearing when rich ; for selfishness is equally at 
the bottom of these opposite evils. Indeed, it is at 
die bottom of all manner of evils. 


CHAP. X .. 


The period from twelve to sixteen years of age is> 
extremely critical in the formation of character, partic- 
ularly with regard to daughters. The imagination is 
then all alive T and the affections are in full vigor , while 
the judgment is unstrengthened by observation, and : 
enthusiasm has never learned moderation of experience- 
During this important period, a mother cannot be toa 
watchful. As much as possible, she should keep a 
daughter under her own eye; and,, above all things, she 
should encourage entire confidence towards herself* 
This can be done by a ready sympathy with youthful 
feelings, and by avoiding all unnecessary restraint and 
harshness. I believe it is extremely natural to choose 
a mother in preference to all other friends and confi- 
dants; but if a daughter, by harshness, indifTeience y 
or an unwillingness to make allowance for youthful 
feeling, is driven from the holy resting place, which 
nature has provided for her security, the greatest dan- 
ger is to be apprehended. Nevertheless, I would not 
have mothers too indulgent, for fear of weaning the 
affections of children. This is not the way to gain the 
perfect love of young people ; a judicious parent is 
always better beloved, and more respected, than a fool- 
ishly indulgent one. The real secret is, for a mother 
never to sanction the slightest error, or imprudencey 
but at the same time to keep her heart warm and 
fresh, ready to sympathize with all the innocent gaiety 


mud enthusiasm of youth. Salutary restraint, but not 
unnecessary restraint, is desirable. 

I will now proceed to state what appears to me 
peculiarly important at the age I have mentioned : and 
1 trust the hints I may suggest will prove acceptable to 
judicious parents. Heedlessness is so commonly the 
fault of the teens, that I shall first mention the great 
Importance of habits of order, and neatness. The 
drawers^ trunks and work-bos of a young lady should 
be occasionally inspected,, for the purpose of correct- 
ing any tendency to wastefulness, or sluttishness. 
Particular care should he taken of the teeth,; they 
should be washed with a clean brush and water at 
least twice a day -; to cleanse them just before retiring 
to rest promotes sweetness of breath, and tends to 
preserve them from decay. Buttons off, muslins wrink- 
led, the petticoat below the edge of the gown, shoe- 
strings broken, and hair loose and straggling, should 
never pass unnoticed. Serious advice from a father 
on these subjects does more good than anything else. 
Smooth, well arranged hair, and feet perfectly neat, 
give a genteel, tasteful appearance to the whole 

A dress distinguished for simplicity and freshness is 
abundantly more lady-like than the ill-placed furbe- 
lows of fashion. It is very common to see vulgar, 
empty-minded people perpetually changing their dresses, 
without ever acquiring the air of a gentlewoman. If 
there is simplicity in the choice of colors, — if clothes 
fit well, and are properly pinned, tied and arranged, — if 
they always have a neat, fresh look, — and above all, 
if the head and the feet are always in order, — 

132 the mother's book* 

nothing more is required for a perfectly lady-like ap- 

Nothing tends to produce a love of order so much' 
as the very early habits of observation, and attention to 
trifles, which I have so particularly urged in various- 
parts of this book. I would teach a daughter to- 
observe such trifling things ae the best manner of opening 
a new piece of tape ; and I would take every precau- 
tion to conquer the spirit that leads young people ta 
say ' I don't care,' ' No matter how it k done,' — fee- 

I have, in a previous chapter, spoken of the effect 
which habits of observation have upon politeness of 
manner; and I cannot, while speaking of an age 
peculiarly liable to affectation, pass by the subject of 
good manners without saying a few words more con- 
cerning that most disgusting and injurious fault. Let 
all your influence be exerted ta check the slightest 
appearance of affectation. No matter whether it be 
affectation of goodness, of learning, of sentimentality^ 
of enthusiasm, of simplicity, or of gracefulness. — It 
will start up. in a multitude of new forms, like the 
febled heads of the hydra — but cut them off unspar- 
ingly. This fault, with its most artful covering, is 
easily detected ; nature has a quiet sincerity about her, 
that cannot be mistaken, or counterfeited. An absence 
of all anxiety to appear well, is the very surest way ta 
be attractive. An entire forgetfulness of self, and a 
good-natured wish to oblige and amuse others, produce 
a feeling of ease in company, and more effectually 
give the stamp of refined society, than all the affec- 
tation and finery in the world. Bashfulness is very 
unbecoming and awkward , while modesty is peculiarly 

the mother's book. 133 

fascinating to every one. People are bashful when 
they are thinking about themselves and are anxious to 
^appear well ; they are modest when they forget them- 
selves, and are simply willing to do what they can to 
make others happy. Proud people, unless they have 
long been accustomed to taking the lead in society, 
-are very apt to be bashful ; modesty and humility 
generally go together. Selfishness is the cause of 
fcashfulness, as well as of more serious evils. 

Habits of order should be -carried into expenses. 
From the time children are twelve years old,, they 
should keep a regular account of what they receive, 
and what they expend. This will produce habits of 
care, and make them think whether they employ their 
money usefully. It is an excellent plan for a father, at 
the beginning of the year, to state what he is willing 
each child, older than twelve, should expend per 
quarter. At first, the greater part might be under a 
mother's direction, for clothes, and other necessaries ; 
and only a small portion be at the disposal of the child, 
In this way, a father knows certainly what he expends 
for each ; and domestic discord is not likely to be 
produced by bills unexpectedly large. When the 
arrangement is once made, nothing should be add- 
ed ; the idea of being helped out of difficulties brought 
on by thoughtlessness and extravagance, would defeat 
the express purpose of an allowance. A mother can 
generally tell very nearly what it is necessary and 
proper for a daughter to expend yearly ; if you find you 
really have not allowed enough, make larger provision 
the next year ; but never add to what was originally 
agreed upon, except under very extraordinary circum- 

134 the mother's book. 

stances^ At sixteen years of age, or perhaps sooner^ 
where there is great maturity of character, a young 
lady may be profited by being trusted with the whole 
of her allowance, to spend at discretion ; always, how- 
ever, rendering an exact account to her parents, at the 
end of the year. 

Some may think such a system could be pursued only 
by the wealthy ; but it is no matter whether the quar- 
terly allowance is fifty dollars, or fifty cents — the prin- 
ciple is the same. The responsibility implied by such 
trust gives children more self-respect, and self-command i 
it helps them to remember how much they owe to the 
generosity of parents ; and checks their heedlessness in 
the expenditure of money. But its most important use 
is in teaching them to be really benevolent. Children 
who go to a parent and ask for things to give away, 
may know what kind impulses are, but they know 
nothing about real benevolence of principle. True 
generosity is a willingness to deny ourselves for the 
benefit of others — to give up something of our own, that 
we really like, for the sake of doing good. If a child 
has a quarter of a dollar a month to expend, and gives 
half of it to a poor sick neighbor, instead of laying it 
up to buy a book, or a trinket, he knows more of real 
benevolence, than could be taught by all the books 
and maxims in the world. When you know of any 
such action, let a child see that it increases your affec- 
tion and respect. Do not let the hurry of business, or 
the pressure of many cares, keep you from expressing 
marked approbation. Human nature is weak, and 
temptation strong. Young people need to be cheered 
onward in the path of goodness ; and they should never 


he disappointed in the innocent expectation of giving 
pleasure to a parent. But do not praise them in the 
presence of others; and do not say much about it, as If 
it were any great thing — -merely treat them with unu- 
sual affection and confidence. Do not compensate 
their benevolence by making them presents. This will 
lead them into temptation. It will no longer be self- 
denial in them to give ; for they will be sure they shall 
lose nothing in the end. They should learn to take 
pleasure in losing their own gratifications for the benefit 
of others. 

One very good effect resulting from keeping an exact 
account of expenses., had well nigh escaped my memory. 
Should your daughter ever become a wife, this habit 
will enable her to conform more easily to her husband's 
income, A great deal of domestic bitterness has been 
produced by a wife's not knowing, or not thinking, how 
much she expends. Every prudent man wishes to 
form some calculation about the expenses of his family ; 
and this he cannot do, if a wife keeps no accounts, or 
keeps them irregularly. 

In connexion with this subject, I would urge the 
vast importance of a thorough knowledge of arithmetic 
among women. It is a study that greatly tends to 
strengthen the mind, and produce careful habits of 
thought ; and no estate can be settled without it. In 
England and France, it is no uncommon thing for the 
wife of a sreat manufacturer or merchant to be his 
head clerk. 

An American lady, now residing in Paris, is said to 
be an invaluable partner to her wealthy husband, on 
account of her perfect knowledge of his extensive busi- 


n€33, and the exact and judicious manner in which she 
conducts affairs during his absence. I do not wish to 
see American women taking business out of the hands 
of men ; but I w T ish they were all capable of doing busi- 
ness, or settling an estate,, when it is necessary. For 
this purpose, a very thorough knowledge of book-keep- 
ing should be attained y both the old and the new sys- 
tem should be learned. Nor should a general knowledge 
of the laws connected with the settlement of estates be 
neglected. Every young person ought to be well ac- 
quainted with the contents of Sullivan's Political Class- 
Book. Many a widow and orphan has been cheated in 
consequence of ignorance on these subjects. 

Should your daughter never have an estate to settle, 
or business to transact, her knowledge of arithmetic, 
book-keeping and penmanship may be valuable to her 
as a means of support. I do think children should be 
brought up with a dread of being dependent on the 
bounty of others. Some young ladies think it a degra- 
dation to support themselves ; and to avoid it, they are 
willing to stay with any relation, who will furnish them 
a home. This is not indulging a right spirit. We ought 
to be resigned and cheerful in a dependent situation, 
when we cannot possibly provide for ourselves ; but a 
willingness to burthen others, when we can help it by 
a little exertion, is not resignation — it is mere pride 
and indolence. Next to a love of usefulness, knowledge 
should be valued because it multiplies our resources in 
case of poverty. This unwillingness to subsist on the 
bounty of others should not be taught as a matter of pride, 
but of principle ; it should proceed from an unwillingness 
to take away the earnings of others, without rendering 


some equivalent, and a reluctance to share what proper- 
ly belongs to the more unfortunate and needy. There 
is nothing selfish in this. It springs from a real regard 
to the good of others. 

I would make it an object so to educate children that 
rtiey could, in case of necessity, support themselves re- 
spectably. For this reason, if a child discovered a de- 
cided talent for any accomplishment, I would cultivate 
it, if my income would possibly allow it. Everything 
we add to our knowledge, adds to our means of useful- 
ness. If -a girl have a decided taste for drawing, for 
example, and it be encouraged, it is a pleasant resource, 
which will make her home agreeable, and lessen the 
desire for company and amusements-; if she marry, it 
will enable her to teach her children without the ex- 
pense of a master ; if she live unmarried, she may gain 
a livelihood by teaching the art she at first learned as a 
mere gratification of taste. The same thing may be 
said of music and a variety of other things, not generally 
deemed necessary in education. In all cases it is best 
Chat what is learned should be learned well. In order 
to do this., good masters should be preferred to cheap 
©nes. Bad habits, once learned, are not easily corrected. 
It is far better that children should learn one thing 
thoroughly, than many things superficially. Make up 
your mind how much you can afford to spend for one 
particular thing; and when you have decided that, 
spend it as far as it will go in procuring really good 
teachers. I believe this to be the best economy in the 
end. It is better to take twelve lessons from a first 
rate French teacher, than to take a hundred from one 
who does not know how to speak the language ; be- 


cause in the latter case, bad habits of pronunciation will 
be learned, and probably never corrected. The same- 
thing is true of all kinds of knowledge, solid or orna- 

While speaking of acquirements, I would again urge 
the great necessity of persevering in whatever pursuits 
are commenced. Time, talent, and money, are often> 
shamefully wasted by learning a variety of things imper- 
fectly, because they prove more difficult than was at first 
imagined ;. and what is worst of all, every individual in- 
stance of this kind, strengthens- the pernicious habit of 
being easily discouraged at obstacles. A young lady 
should be very sure she knows her own mind before she 
begins any pursuit; but when it is once begun, it should 
be an unalterable law that she must persevere. 

Perhaps some parents of moderate fortune will ask if 
there is no danger of unfitting girls for the duties of their 
station, and making them discontented with their situa- 
tion in life, by teaching them accomplishments merely 
ornamental. For myself, I do not believe that any kind 
of knowledge ever unfitted a person for the discharge 
of duty, provided that knowledge was acquired from a 
right motive, It is wonderful what different results the 
same thing will produce, when the motives are different. 
No matter what is learned, provided it be acquired as a 
means of pleasing a parent, of becoming useful to 
others, or of acquiring a necessary support. If you 
induce children to learn any particular thing for the 
sake of showing off, or being as grand as their neigh- 
bors, then, indeed, you will unfit them for their duties,. 
and make them discontented with their situation. Look- 
ing to others for our standard of happiness is the sure 

the mother's book. 139 

way to be miserable,. Our business is with our own 
hearts, and our own motives. When I say that a decided 
talent for any pursuit should be encouraged, I do not 
mean that every whim and caprice should be indulged. 
Mothers often talk about giving their daughters a taste 
for music, and a taste for painting, when in fact they 
only wish to excite in them a silly ambition to have as 
many accomplishments to show off, as other girls have. 
The consequence is, such families undertake to do a 
multitude of things, and do nothing well. A good deal 
of money is spent to very little purpose; for such 
young ladies do not really take pleasure in their employ- 
ments; and if left destitute, they could not teach what 
chey do not half understand. 

My idea is this — -First, be sure that children are fa- 
miliar with all the duties of their present situation ; at 
the same time, by schools, by reading, by conversation, 
give them as much solid knowledge as you can, — no 
matter how much, or of what kind, — it will come in 
use some time or other; and lastly, if your circum- 
stances are easy, and you can afford to indulge your 
children in any matter of taste, do it fearlessly, without 
any idea that it will unfit them for more important du- 
ties. Neither learning nor accomplishments do any 
harm to man or woman if the motive for acquiring them 
be a proper one ; on the contrary, those who know 
most, are apt to perform their duties best — provided 
the heart and the conscience have been educated as 
well as the understanding. I believe a variety of 
knowledge (acquired from such views as 1 have stated) 
would make a man a better servant, as well as a better 
president ; and make a woman a better wife, as well 


as a better teacher, A selfish use of riches leads t& 
avarice, pride, and contempt of manual exertion ; a self- 
ish use of knowledge leads to pedantry, aftectation r 
unwillingness to conform to others, and indolence in any 
pursuit not particularly pleasing to ourselves. But the 
fault is not in the riches, or the knowledge — the diffi- 
culty lies in the selfish use of these advantages. If 
both were held in trust, as a means of doing good, how 
different would be the result I For this reason, I should 
never wish children to learn anything because some of 
their companions were learning it. I would always 
offer present or future usefulness as a motive. For in- 
stance, if a daughter were very desirous of learning mu- 
sic, I would ask her why she desired it, If she answer- 
ed, or if I had reason to think, it was because some one 
else was learning it, I would at once discountenance it, by- 
telling her the motive was a very poor one ; but if she 
said she wished too learn, because she loved it very much,. 
I would readily enter into her wishes, and promise to* 
ask her father's permission. If the request were grant- 
ed, I would say, ' You know we are not rich enough 
to have good music-masters for all of you ; but your 
father is willing to expend more upon you than he could 
otherwise afford, from the idea that you will learn care- 
fully and thoroughly, and thus be able to teach your 
brothers and sisters. At some future time your music 
may perhaps be the means of supporting yourself and 
doing good to others. You can likewise bring it into 
immediate use ; for you will very soon be able to amuse 
your father in return for this kind indulgence.' 

I have known young ladies, on whom a good deal 
had been expended, who more than repaid their parents 


by their assistance in educating younger branches of the 
family; and is not such a preparation likely to make 
the duties of a mother more pleasant and familiar to them ? 
In some cases the acquirements and industry of one 
branch of the family have served to educate and bring 
forward all the rest; is not such a power, well-used, 
extremely conducive to kindness and benevolence ? 

It is certainly very desirable to fit children for the 
station they are likely to fill, as far as a parent can judge 
what that station will be. In this country, it is a difficult 
point to decide ; for half our people are in a totally 
different situation from what might have been expected 
in their childhood. However, one maxim is as safe as 
it is true — i. e. A well informed mind is the happiest 
and the most useful in all situations. Every new ac 
quirement is something added to a solid capital. To 
imitate every passing fashion is a very different thing from 
gaining knowledge. To thrum a few tunes upon a piano, 
and paint a few gaudy flowers, does not deserve to be 
spoken of as a part of education ; — a fashionable scarf, 
or a bright ribbon, might as well be called so. I would 
never have music, painting, &,c, learned at all, unless 
they could be learned perfectly, and practised with real 
good taste ; and here I would make the passing remark, 
that a well-cultivated, observing mind, is most likely to be 
tasteful in all the lighter and more ornamental branches. 
The sure way to succeed in anything is to cultivate the 
intellectual faculties, and keep the powers of attention 
wide awake. If the mental faculties are kept vigorous 
by constant use, they will excel in anything to which 
their strength is applied. I think it is peculiarly unwise 
to sacrifice comfort, benevolence, or the more solid 

142 the mother's book. 

branches of learning, to any of the elegant arts ; but 
when you can attain all these and a little more, it is 
much better to spend the surplus in giving your children 
a new pleasure, and an additional resource against pov- 
erty, than it is to expend it in superfluous articles of 
dress, or furniture. The same remarks that apply to 
music, drawing, &lc., apply to a variety of things, that 
may be acquired at little or no expence — such as braid- 
ing straw, working muslin, doing rug-work, &c. — I would 
teach a child to learn every innocent thing, which it 
is in her power to learn. If it is not wanted immediate- 
ly, it can be laid by for future use. I have a strong 
partiality for those old-fashioned employments, marking 
and rug-work. The formation of the figures, counting 
the threads, and arranging the colors, require a great deal 
of care ; and the necessity of close attention is extremely 
salutary to young people. 

Important as a love of reading is, there are cases 
where it ought to be checked. It is mere selfishness 
and indolence to neglect active duties for the sake 
of books ; we have no right to do it. Children of a 
languid and lazy temperament are sometimes willing to 
devote all their time to reading, for the sake of avoiding 
bodily exertion ; such a tendency should be counteracted 
by endeavoring to interest them in active duties and 
amusements. ' Particular pains should be taken to in- 
duce them to attend to the feelings of others. Whatever 
services and attentions they exact from others, they 
should be obliged in their turn to pay.' Out of door 
exercise, frequent walks, and a lively attention to the 
beauties of nature, are very beneficial to such disposi- 
tions. On the contrary, those who have no love for 

the mother's book. 143 


quiet, mental pleasures, should be attracted by interest- 
ing books and entertaining conversation. A mother 
needs to be something of a philosopher. — In other, and 
better words, she needs a great deal of practical good 
sense, and habits of close observation. 

With regard to what is called a natural genius for 
any particular employment, I think it should be fostered, 
wherever it is decidedly shown ; but great care should 
be taken to distinguish between a strong natural bias 
and the sudden whims and caprices, to which compan- 
ions, or accidental circumstances, have given birth. No 
doubt each individual has the gift to do some one par- 
ticular thing better than others, if he could but discover 
what that gift is. We all do best what we strongly love 
to do. I believe the perfect and entire union of duly 
and inclination in our employments constitutes genius. 
Men seldom become very great in any pursuit they do 
not love with the whole heart and soul ; and since this 
is the way to arrive at the greatest perfection, it is very 
desirable to find out the bias of character in early life. 
This is not to be done by asking questions ; but by quietly 
observing what a child most delights in, and what he 
asks about most frequently and eagerly. 

With regard to lessons, reading, and work, the atten- 
tion of children should be kept awake by talking with 
them, asking questions on the subject, and showing them 
the best and most convenient methods of doing whatever 
they are about ; but great care should be taken not to 
help them too much. No more assistance than is absolute- 
ly necessary should be given. — Leave them to their own 
ingenuity. Young people will always be helpless, if 
thev are not obliged to think and do for themselves. 

144 the mother's book. 


With regard to the kind of books that are read, great 
precaution should be used. No doubt the destiny of 
individuals has very often been decided by volumes 
accidentally picked up and eagerly devoured at a period 
of life when every new impression is powerful and abid- 
ing. For this reason, parents, or some guardian friends, 
should carefully examine every volume they put into 
the hands of young people. In doing this, the disposi- 
tion and character of the child should be considered. 
If a bold, ambitious boy is dazzled by the trappings of 
war, and you do not wish to indulge his disposition to 
be a soldier, avoid placing in his way fascinating biogra- 
phies of military heroes ; for the same reason do not 
strengthen a restless, roving tendency by accounts of 
remarkable voyages and adventures. I do not mean to 
speak disparagingly of Voyages and Travels ; I consider 
them the best arid most attractive books in the world ; 
I merely suggest a caution against strengthening any 
dangerous bias of character. 

A calm, steady temperament may be safely indulged 
in reading works of imagination, — nay, perhaps requires 
such excitement to rouse it sufficiently, — but an excita- 
ble, romantic disposition should be indulged sparingly in 
such reading. To forbid all works of fiction cannot do 
good. There is an age when all mortals, of any sense 
or feeling, are naturally romantic and imaginative. This 
state of feeling, instead of being violently wrestled with, 
should be carefully guided and restrained, by reading 
only the purest and most eloquent works of fiction. 
The admirable and unfortunate Lady Russell, in a 
letter, written on the anniversary of her husband's exe- 
cution, says, 'At such seasons I do not contend with 

the mother's book. 145 

frail nature, but keep her as innocent as I can.' This 
rule may be wisely applied to that period of life when 
young people, from the excess of mental energy, and 
the riot of unwearied fancy, are most bewitched to read 

Never countenance by word or example that silly 
affected sensibility which leads people to faint or run 
away at the sight of danger or distress. If such a 
habit is formed, try to conquer it by reasoning, and by 
direct appeals to good feeling. Nothing can be more 
selfish than to run away from those who are suffering, 
merely because the sight is painful. True sensibility 
leads us to overcome our own feelings for the good of 

Great caution should be used with regard to the 
habits of talking in a family. Talk of things rather 
than of persons, lest your children early imbibe a love 
of gossipping. Particularly avoid the habit of speaking 
ill of others. We acquire great quickness of perception 
in those things to which we give attention in early life ; 
and if we have been in the habit of dwelling on the 
defects of others, we shall not only be ill-natured in our 
feelings, but we shall actually have the faculty of per- 
ceiving blemishes much more readily than virtues. 
This tendency always to look on the black side is a 
very unfortunate habit, and may often be traced to the 
influences around us in childhood. 

Some people fly to the opposite extreme. From 
the idea of being charitable, they gloss over everything, 
and make no distinction between vice and virtue. This 
is false charity. We should not speak well of what we 
do not believe to be good and true. We may avoid 

146 the mother's book. 

saying anything of persons, unless we can speak well of 
them ; but when we are obliged to discuss a subject, 
we should never in the least degree palliate and excuse 
what we know to be wrong. 

It is a great mistake to think that education is Jin- 
ished when young people leave school. Education is 
never finished. Half the character is formed after we 
cease to learn lessons from books ; and at that active 
and eager age it is formed with a rapidity and strength 
absolutely startling to think of. Do you ask what forms 
it ? I answer the every-day conversation they hear, the 
habits they witness, and the people they are taught to 
respect. Sentiments thrown out in jest, or carelessness, 
and perhaps forgotten by the speaker as soon as ut- 
tered, often sink deeply into the youthful mind, and 
have a powerful influence on future character. This 
is true in very early childhood ; and it is peculiarly true 
at the period when youth is just ripening into manhood. 
Employ what teachers we may, the influences at home 
will have the mightiest influences in education. School 
masters may cultivate the intellect ; but the things said 
and done at home are busy agents in forming the affec- 
tions ; and the latter have infinitely more important 
consequences than the former. 

A knowledge of domestic duties is beyond all price 
to a woman. Every one ought to know how to sew, 
and knit, and mend, and cook, and superintend a house- 
hold. In every situation of life, high or low, this sort 
of knowledge is a great advantage. There is no neces- 
sity that the gaining of such information should inter- 
fere with intellectual acquirement, or even with elegant 
accomplishments. A well regulated mind can find time 

the mother's book. 147 

to attend to all. When a girl is nine or ten years old, 
she should be accustomed to take some regular share in 
household duties, and to feel responsible for the mannei 
in which it is done, — such as doing her own mending 
and making, washing the cups and putting them in place, 
cleaning the silver, dusting the parlor, &c. This 
should not be done occasionally, and neglected when- 
ever she finds it convenient ; she should consider it her 
department. When they are older than twelve, girls 
should begin to take turns in superintending the house- 
hold, keeping an account of weekly expenses, cooking 
puddings, pies, cake, &c. To learn anything effectu- 
ally, they should actually do these things themselves, — 
not stand by, and see others do them. It is a great 
mistake in mothers to make such slaves of themselves, 
rather than divide their cares with daughters. A variety 
of employment, and a feeling of trust and responsibility, 
add very much to the real happiness of young people. 
All who have observed human nature closely will agree 
that a vast deal depends upon how people deport them- 
selves the first year after their marriage. If any little 
dissensions arise during that period, — if fretfulness and 
repining be indulged on one side, indifference and dis- 
like on the other will surelv follow, — and when this 
once takes place, farewell to all hopes of perfect domes- 
tic love. People may indeed agree to live peaceably 
and respectably together, — but the charm is broken — 
the best and dearest gift God gives to mortals is lost. 
Nothing can ever supply the place of that spontaneous 
tenderness, that boundless sympathy of soul, which has 
been so thoughtlessly destroyed. 'Beware of the first 
quarrel,' is the best advice that was ever given to mar- 

148 the mother's book. 

ried people. Now I would ask any reflecting mother, 
whether a girl brought up in ignorance of household 
duties, is not very likely to fret, when she is first obliged 
to attend to them ? Will not her want of practice 
decidedly interfere with the domestic comfort of her 
family, and will it not likewise be a very serious trial to 
her own temper ? I have known many instances where 
young married women have been perplexed, discouraged, 
and miserable, under a sense of domestic cares, which, 
being so entirely new to them, seemed absolutely insup- 
portable. The spirit of complaint to which this naturally 
gives rise is not very complimentary to the husband ; 
and it is not wonderful if he becomes dissatisfied with a 
wife, whom he cannot render happy. 

Young girls learn many mischievous lessons from 
their companions at school. Among a mass of young 
ladies collected from all sorts of families, there will of 
course be much vanity, frivolity, and deceit, and some 
indecency. The utmost watchfulness of a teacher can- 
not prevent some bad influences. For this reason, 1 
should myself decidedly prefer instructing a daughter 
in my own house ; but I am aware that in most families 
this course would be expensive and inconvenient. 
However, I would never trust a young girl at a boarding 
school without being sure that her room-mate was dis- 
creet, well-principled, and candid. I should rather have 
a daughter's mind a little less improved, than to have 
her heart exposed to corrupt influences ; for this reason, 
I should prefer a respectable school in the country to a 
fashionable one in the city. For the same reason, I 
should greatly dread a young lady's making long visits 
from home, unless I had perfect confidence in every 

the mother's book. 149 

member of the family she visited, and in every person 
to whom they would be likely to introduce her. There 
is no calculating the mischief that is done by the 
chance acquaintances picked up in this way. If there 
are sons in the families visited, the danger is still greater. 
I do not, of course, allude to any immorality of con- 
duct; I should hope girls even tolerably educated 
would never be guilty of anything like immodesty. 
But young ladies, ignorant of the world and its vices, 
often do imprudent things without knowing them to be 
imprudent. If they have strong and enthusiastic af- 
fections, even their innocent frankness will in all proba- 
bility be misconstrued by those who are not them- 
selves pure and open-hearted. At all events, the fre- 
quent intercourse likely to exist between a visitor and 
the brothers of her friend is extremely apt to fill her 
head with a diseased anxiety for the admiration of the 
other sex, and with silly, romantic ideas about love — ■ 
ideas which have no foundation in reason, nature, or 
common sense. Many unhappy matches have been 
the result of placing young people under the influence 
of such sentimental excitement, before they were old 
enough to know their own minds. Such unions are 
often dignified with the name of Zove-matches ; but love 
has nothing to do with the business — fancy, vanity, 
or passion is the agent ; and vanity is by far the most 
busy of the three. To call such thoughtless connex- 
ions iW-matches is a libel upon the deepest, holiest, 
and most thoughtful of all the passions. 

In this country, girls are often left to themselves at 
the very period when, above all others, they need a 


mother's care. In France, mothers always visit with 
their daughters ; and if restraint upon unmarried people 
is carried to excess there, we certainly err on the 
opposite extreme. We allow too much freedom, and 
we allow it too soon. I believe it is much better for a 
very young lady never to go about alone, or visit for 
any length of time from home, without her mother. 

Youth must have friends, and those friends, being 
loved ardently, will have prodigious influence. The 
choice requires extreme caution. The whole of human 
destiny is often materially affected by those with whom 
w r e are intimate at fourteen or fifteen years of age. The 
safest method is not to put children in the way of those 
whom you dare not trust. Do not expressly forbid an 
acquaintance, (unless great faults of character demand 
such restrictions,) but endeavor by every possible means 
to withdraw your child from society you deem improp- 
er ; occupy her with other things, and interest her in 
other persons. If an intimacy does spring up, notwith- 
standing your precautions, talk openly and reasonably 
about it ; and let your daughter understand that you de- 
cidedly object to something in the young lady's princi- 
ples, manners, or habits. Wealth and station should 
never be spoken of as either for or against forming a 
friendship ; the generous mind of youth never thinks of 
these artificial distinctions, and we certainly do wrong to 
teach them. Your chief safety lies in the manner in 
which you have educated your daughter. If her mind, 
heart, and conscience have all been cultivated, she will 
not love to associate with the ignorant, the vulgar, and the 
vicious ; she will naturally seek the well-informed, the 


well-principled, and the truly refined, because she will 
have most sympathy with them. 

A mother has an undoubted right to inspect her 
children's letters, as well as the books they read ; and 
if a young lady feels this to be any hardship, there is 
certainly something wrong, in one or other of the par- 
ties. Where young people are habitually discreet, it is 
not well to exercise this right very often ; but children 
should always feel perfectly willing that letters may be 
opened, or not, at a parent's option. But parents, on 
their part, must consider that this entire confidence 
cannot naturally and reasonably be expected to exist, 
unless they evince perfect good-nature, and a lively 
sympathy with youthful feeling. Perfect confidence 
between parent and child is a seven-fold shield against 

There is one subject, on which I am very anxious 
to say a great deal ; but on which, for obvious reasons, 
I can say very little. Judging by my own observation, 
I believe it to be the greatest evil now existing in educa- 
tion. I mean the want of confidence between mothers 
and daughters on delicate subjects. Children, from 
books, and from their own observation, soon have their 
curiosity excited on such subjects ; this is perfectly 
natural and innocent, and if frankly met by a mother, 
it would never do harm. But on these occasions it is 
customary either to put young people oft' with lies, or 
still further to excite their curiosity by mystery and 
embarrassment. Information being refused them at 
the only proper source, they immediately have recourse 
to domestics, or immodest school-companions ; and 
very often their young minds are polluted with filthy 

152 the mother's book. 

anecdotes of vice and vulgarity. This ought not to be. 
Mothers are the only proper persons to convey such 
knowledge to a child's mind. They can do it without 
throwing the slightest stain upon youthful purity ; and it 
is an imperious duty that they should do it. A girl 
who receives her first ideas on these subjects from the 
shameless stories and indecent jokes of vulgar associates, 
has in fact prostituted her mind by familiarity with vice. 
A diseased curiosity is excited, and undue importance 
given to subjects, which those she has been taught to 
respect think it necessary to envelope in so much mys- 
tery ; she learns to think a great deal about them, and 
to ask a great many questions. This does not spring 
from any natural impurity ; the same restless curiosity 
would be excited by any subject treated in the same 
manner. On the contrary, a well-educated girl of 
twelve years old, would be perfectly satisfied with a 
frank, rational explanation from a mother. It would set 
her mind at rest upon the subject ; and instinctive 
modesty would prevent her recurring to it unnecessarily, 
or making it a theme of conversation with others. 
Mothers are strangely averse to encouraging this sort of 
confidence. I know not why it is, but they are usually 
the very last persons in the world to whom daughters 
think of applying in these cases. Many a young lacy 
has fallen a victim to consumption from a mother's 
bashfulness in imparting necessary precautions; and 
many, oh, many more, have had their minds corrupted 
beyond all cure. 

I would not by any means be understood to approve 
of frequent conversations of this kind between parent 
and child— and least of all, anything like jesting, or 

the mother's book. 153 

double meanings. I never saw but two women, who 
indulged in such kind of mirth before their daughters ; 
and I never think of them but with unmingled disgust. 
I do believe that after one modest and rational expla- 
nation, the natural purity and timidity of youth would 
check a disposition to talk much about it. 

It is usually thought necessary, even by the very con- 
scientious, to tell falsehoods about such subjects ; but I 
believe it cannot do good, and may do harm. I would 
say to a young child, ' I cannot tell you now T , because 
you are not old enough to understand it. When you 
are old enough, I will talk with you ; but you must 
remember not to ask anybody but me. You know I 
always have a reason for what I say to you ; and I tell 
you it would be very improper to talk with other people 
about it. I promise you that I will explain it all to you, 
as soon as you are old enough to understand it.' 

This promise ought to be faithfully kept ; and if 
young people meet with anything in books that requires 
explanation, they should be taught to apply to their 
mother, and to no one else. Such a course would, I am 
very sure, prevent a great deal of impurity and impru- 

It is a bad plan for young girls to sleep with nursery 
maids, unless you have the utmost confidence in the 
good principles and modesty of your domestics. There 
is a strong love among vulgar people of telling secrets, 
and talking on forbidden subjects. From a large pro- 
portion of domestics this danger is so great, that I 
apprehend a prudent mother will very rarely, under 
any circumstances, place her daughter in the same 
sleeping apartment with a domestic, until her character 

154 the mother's book. 

is so much formed, that her own dignity will lead her 
to reject all improper conversation. A well-principled, 
amiable elder sister is a great safeguard to a. girl's purity 
of thought and propriety of behavior. It is extremely 
important that warm-hearted, imprudent youth, should 
have a safe and interesting companion. A judicious 
mother can do a vast deal toward supplying this want ; 
but those who have such a shield as a good sister are 
doubly blessed. 

In the chapter on politeness I have mentioned how 
much little courtesies and kind attentions tend to strength- 
en the bonds of family love ; and I firmly believe that 
these things, small as they may appear singly and sepa- 
rately, are of very great importance. Everything which 
ties the heart to home, has a good influence. Brothers 
and sisters cannot be too much encouraged in perfect 
kindness and candor toward each other. Any slight 
rudeness, a want of consideration for each other's feelings, 
or of attention to each other's comfort, should be treated 
with quite as much importance as similar offences against 
strangers. The habit of putting on politeness to go abroad, 
and of throwing it off at home, does more moral mis- 
chief than we are apt to imagine. I know families, con- 
scientious in all great things, who yet think it no harm to 
peep into each other's letters, or use each other's 
property without permission ; yet I look upon these 
things as absolutely unprincipled; they are positive 
infringements of the golden rule. 

If one member of a family have any peculiarity, or 
personal defect, he should be treated with unusual deli- 
cacy and affection. The best way to cure any defect 
is to treat persons in such a mariner, that they them- 

the mother's book. 155 

selves forget it. Perpetual consciousness of any disa- 
greeable peculiarity increases the evil prodigiously. This 
is particularly true of physical imperfections ; stuttering 
and lisping, for instance, are made ten times worse by 
being laughed at, or observed. It is the fear of exciting 
remark that makes people stutter so much worse before 
strangers than in the presence of their friends. 

Parents are too apt to show a preference for the 
smartest or prettiest of the family. This is exactly the 
reverse of right. Those who are the least attractive 
abroad should be the most fostered at home ; otherwise 
they may become chilled and discouraged; and the 
talents and good qualities they have, may die away in 
the secrecy of their own bosoms, for want of something 
to call them into exercise. 

The business of parents is to develope each individual 
character so as to produce the greatest amount of use- 
fulness and happiness. It is very selfish to bestow the 
most attention upon those who are the most pleasing, 
or most likely to do credit to a parent in the eyes of 
the world. Those who are painfully diffident of them- 
selves should be treated with distinguished regard ; they 
should be consulted on interesting subjects', and when 
their opinions are injudicious, they should be met by 
open and manly arguments, and never treated with any 
degree of contempt or indifference. 

To have the various members of a family feel a 
common interest, as if they were all portions of the 
same body, is extremely desirable. It is a beautiful 
sight to see sisters willing to devote their talents and 
industry to the education of brothers, or a brother willing 
to deny himself selfish gratifications for a sister's improve- 

156 the mother's book. 

ment, or a parent's comfort. Little respectful attentions 
to a parent tend very much to produce this delightful 
domestic sympathy. Nothing is more graceful than 
children employed in placing a father's arm-chair and 
slippers, or busying themselves in making everything 
look cheerful against his return ; and there is something 
more than mere looks concerned in these becoming 
attentions — these trifling things lay the foundation of 
strong and deeply virtuous feelings. The vices and 
temptations of the world have little danger for those 
who can recollect beloved parents and a happy home. 
The holy and purifying influence is carried through life, 
and descends to bless and encourage succeeding genera- 
tions. For this reason, too much cannot be done to 
produce an earnest and confiding friendship between 
parents and children. Mothers should take every 
opportunity to excite love, gratitude and respect, toward 
a father. His virtues and his kindness should be a favorite 
theme, when talking with his children. The same rule 
that applies to a wife, in these respects, of course applies 
to a husband. It should be the business of each to 
strengthen the bonds of domestic union. 

Every effort should be made to make home as pleas- 
ant as possible. The habit of taking turns to read 
interesting books aloud, while the others are at work, 
is an excellent plan. Music has likewise a cheerful 
influence, and greatly tends to produce refinement of 
taste. It has a very salutary effect for whole families 
to unite in singing before retiring to rest ; or at any 
other time, when it is pleasant and convenient. On 
such occasions, I think there should be at least one 
simple tune in which the little children can join without 

the mother's book. 157 

injury to their young voices. I believe the power of 
learning to sing is much more general than has hitherto 
been believed ; and the more subjects there are in which 
the different members of a family can sympathize, the 
greater will be their harmony and love. 

It will probably be gathered from what I have said in 
the preceding pages, that I do not approve of young 
ladies' visiting very young, — that is, being what is call- 
ed brought out, or going into company. I think those 
parents w r hose situation does not make it necessary to 
have their daughters brought out at all, are peculiarly 
blest; and under all circumstances, I am sure it is best 
for a daughter never to visit without her mother, till she 
is past seventeen years of age. A round of gayety is 
alike fascinating and unprofitable ; it wastes time, dis- 
tracts attention, and makes every-day duties and pleas- 
ures appear dull and uninteresting. Late hours, excite- 
ment, and irregularity of food, make large demands upon 
health and strength, before the constitution is fully estab- 
lished ; the mind and heart too, as well as the body, 
become old before their time ; there is nothing new in- 
store for the young imagination, and society loses its 
charm at the very age when it would naturally be most 
enjoyed. I do not believe it is ever well for girls to go 
into many large parties ; the manners can be sufficiently 
formed by social intercourse with the polite and intelli- 
gent. I greatly approve of social visiting among children 
and young persons. It is alike beneficial to the heart 
and the manners. I only wish that mothers more gener- 
ally made one of these little parties. In general, girls 
think they must have an apartment to themselves when 
they receive visiters, or they must run off into the gar- 

158 the mother's book. 

den, or upstairs, because a mother's presence is an un- 
pleasant restraint. This ought not to be. If married 
ladies will be familiar and cheerful, they can be extremely 
entertaining, as well as useful to the young. I wish this 
sort of companionship were more general — for I am 
certain it has a good influence. If a mother shows an 
obliging readiness to enter into the plans and amusements 
of her children, and their young guests, they will feel 
no painful restraint in her presence ; while at the same 
time she removes from them all temptation to frivolous 
and improper conversation. I have known instances 
where a mother was the most animated and animating 
of all the little group. Would such instances w T ere 
more frequent ! It is impossible to calculate the bene- 
fits that result from having a happy home. 

From the beginning to the end of this book, I have 
most earnestly represented the necessity of forming 
early habits of observation. It is a strong foundation, 
on which any kind of character may be built, as cir- 
cumstances require. It makes good writers, good paint- 
ers, good botanists, good mechanics, good cooks, good 
housewives, good farmers — good everything ! It fits 
us for any situation in which Providence may place us, 
and enables us to make the most of whatever advantages 
?nay come in our way. It is a sort of vital principle, 
shat gives life to everything. 

Not fifty miles from Boston is a farmer, quite famous 
hv the improvements he has made in the wild grape. 
He found a vine in the wood, which dozens of his 
neighbors passed every w r eek, as well as he ; but he 
observed that where the oxen fed upon the vine the 
grapes where largest and sweetest. He took the hint 

the mother's book. 159 

The vine was transplanted, and closely pruned. This 
produced the same effect as browsing had done ; the 
nourishment, that in a wild state supported a great weight 
of vines and tendrils, went entirely to the body of the 
grape. His neighbors would have known this as well 
as he, if they had thought about it ; but they did not 

In ancient Greece the beneficial effect of closely 
trimming grape-vines was discovered by observing the 
extreme luxuriance of a vine, which an ass had fre- 
quently nibbled as he fed by the way-side. The man 
who availed himself of this hint, became celebrated 
throughout Greece, by means of the far-famed grapes 
of Nauplia ; and, with less justice, statues were erected 
to the ass, and high honors paid to his memory. The 
grape had never been cultivated in this country, when, 
by a singular coincidence, an observing American far- 
mer made the same discovery, and by the same means, 
that gave celebrity to the observing Grecian farmer, in 
very ancient times. 

Even in infancy, the foundation of this important 
habit should be begun, by directing the attention to the 
size, shape, color, Stc, of whatever objects are pre- 
sented. In childhood it should be constantly kept alive, 
by never allowing anything to be read, or done, carelessly ; 
and during the teens, when the mind is all alive and 
busy, very peculiar care should be taken to strengthen 
and confirm it. A young lady should never be satisfied 
with getting through with a thing some how or other ; 
she should know how she has done it, why she has done 
it, and what is the best way of doing it. She should 
use her thoughts in all her employments. There is 


always a best way of doing everything ; and however 
trifling the occupation, this way should be discovered ; 
in making a shirt, for instance, she should be led to ob- 
serve that it is much more convenient to put in the 
sleeves before the collar is set on. It is the want of 
these habits of observation, which makes some people 
so left-handed and awkward about everything they 

There is another subject quite as important — I mean 
habits of reflection. Young people should be accus- 
tomed to look into their own hearts, to be very sure 
what motives they act from, and what feelings they in- 
dulge. Parents can assist them very much, by seizing 
favorable opportunities to talk with them about what 
they have done, and what were their motives of action. 
It is a good maxim ' every morning to think what we 
have to do, and every evening to think what we 
have done.' The close of the year is a peculiarly ap- 
propriate time for self-examination. Each member of 
the family should be encouraged at this interesting sea- 
son, to think what improvements have been made, and 
what evils have been conquered during the year. 

One subject of great importance had nearly escaped 
my recollection. I mean the early habit of writing 
letters neatly and correctly. There are a hundred 
cases where a young person's success in life may be 
affected by the appearance of their epistles. A letter 
badly written, badly spelt, or badly punctuated, is a 
direct and abiding proof of a neglected education, or 
a disorderly mind. The receipt of such a document 
often makes an unfavorable impression with regard to 


an individual's character, or capacity, which is never 
afterward entirely obliterated. For this reason, children 
should early be accustomed to give a natural and 
simple account, in writing, of what they have seen and 
done. The rules of punctuation, which are few and 
plain, should be particularly attended to; and any 
awkwardness or inelegance in the sentences should be 
kindly pointed out, but never ridiculed. If parents, 
from want of early education, feel unable to do this, 
they will, in all probability, know of some near relation, 
or intimate friend, who will occasionally attend to it. 
The great thing is to make children desirous of improve- 
ment ; and this can be done by an uneducated parent, 
as well as by a learned one. When a strong wish to 
excel in any particular thing is once excited, there is no 
danger but it will find means to satisfy itself; and this 
is one reason why we should be more careful what we 
teach children to love, than what we teach them to 



There is no subject connected with education which 
has so important a bearing on human happiness as the 
views young people are taught to entertain with 
regard to matrimonial connexions. The dreams of silly 
romance, half vanity, and half passion, on the one hand, 
and selfish calculation on the other, leave but precious 

162 the mother's book. 

little of just thinking and right feeling on the subject. 
The greatest and most prevailing error in education 
consists in making lovers a subject of such engrossing 
and disproportionate interest in the minds of young 
girls. As soon as they can walk alone, they are called 
' little sweet-heart,' and ' little wife ;' as they grow older, 
the boyish liking of a neighbor, or school-mate, becomes 
a favorite jest ; they often hear it said how lucky such 
and such people are, because they 'married off* all 
their family so young ; and when a pretty, attractive girl 
is mentioned, they are in the habit of hearing it observ- 
ed, ' She will be married young. She is too handsome 
and too interesting to live single long.' 

I have frequently said that such sort of accidental 
remarks do in fact educate children, more than direct 
maxims ; and this applies with peculiar force to the sub- 
ject of matrimony. Such observations as I have quoted, 
give young girls the idea that there is something degrad- 
ing in not being married young ; or, at least, in not having 
had offers of marriage. This induces a kind of silly 
pride and restless vanity, which too often ends in ill- 
assorted connexions. I had a sweet young friend, 
with a most warm and generous heart, but a giddy, ro- 
mantic brain. Her mother was weak-minded and in- 
dulgent, and had herself been taught, in early life, to 
consider it the chief end and aim of existence to get 
married. She often reminded her daughters, that she 
was but sixteen when she was married, and had then 
refused two or three lovers. Of course, when my 
charming, sentimental little friend was sixteen, she began 
to feel uneasy under a sense of disgrace ; her pride was 
concerned in having a beau as early as her mother Ind 

the mother's book. 163 

one ; and this feeling was a good deal strengthened by 
the engagement of two or three young companions. It 
unluckily happened that a dashing, worthless young man 
was introduced to her about this time. A flirtation began, 
which soon ended in an offer of his hand. He said he 
was in good business, and she saw that he wore a hand- 
some coat, and drove a superb horse ; and, more than 
all, she thought what a triumph it would be to be en- 
gaged at sixteen. She married him. It was soon dis- 
covered that he was careless, dissipated, and very poor. 
In no respect whatever had he sympathy with my sen- 
sitive, refined, but ill-educated friend. She discovered 
this too late. She would have discovered it at first, had 
her mind been quiet on the subject of matrimony. A 
wretched life might have been spared her, if her mother 
had left her heart to develope naturally, under the in- 
fluences of true affection, as the lily opens its petals to 
the sunshine. Her marriage was called a love-match ; 
and as such was held up by ambitious parents as a salu- 
tary warning. But there never was a greater misnomer. 
She had not a particle of love for the man. She mar- 
ried him because he happened to be the first that offered, 
and because she felt ashamed not to be engaged as soon 
as her companions. 

But heedless vanity and silly romance, though 
a prolific source of unhappy marriages, are not so 
disastrous in their effects as worldly ambition, and 
selfish calculation. I never knew a marriage ex- 
pressly for money, that did not end unhappily. Yet 
managing mothers, and heartless daughters, are contin- 
ually playing the same unlucky game. I look upon it 
as something more than bad policy for people to marry 

164 the mother's book. 

those to whom they are, at best, perfectly indifferent, 
merely for the sake of wealth ; in my view it is abso- 
lutely unprincipled. Happiness cannot result from such 
connexions, because it ought not. A mother who can 
deliberately advise a daughter thus to throw away all 
chance of domestic bliss, would, were it not for the 
fear of public opinion, be willing to sell her to the 
Grand Sultan, to grace his seraglio. Disguise the mat- 
ter as we may, with the softening epithets of c prudent 
match,' ' a good establishment,' &c, it is, in honest truth, 
a matter of bargain and sale. 

I believe men more frequently marry for love, than 
women ; because they have a freer choice. I am 
afraid to conjecture how large a proportion of worn. a 
marry because they think they shall not have a better 
chance, and dread being dependent. Such marriages, 
no doubt, sometimes prove tolerably comfortable ; but 
great numbers would have been far happier single. If 
I may judge by my own observation of such matches, 
marrying for a home is a most tiresome way of getting 
a living. 

One of the worst effects resulting from managing 
about these things, is the disappointment and fan- 
cied disgrace attendant upon a failure ; and with the 
most artful manoeuvring, failures in such schemes are 
very frequent. Human policy sketches beautiful pat- 
terns, but she is a bad weaver ; she always entangles 
her own web. I am acquainted with two or three man- 
aging mothers, who have pretty children ; and in the 
whole circle of my acquaintance, I know of none so 
unfortunate in disposing of their daughters. The young 
ladies would have married very well, if they had not 

the mother's book. 165 

been taught to act a part ; now, they will either live 
single, or form ill-assorted, unhappy connexions. If 
they live single^ they will probably be ill-natured and 
envious through life ; because they have been taught to 
attach so much importance to the mere circumstance of 
getting married, without any reference to genuine af- 
fection. A woman of well-regulated feelings and an 
active mind, may be very happy in single life, — far 
happier than she could be made by a marriage of ex- 
pediency. The reason old maids are proverbially more 
discontented than old bachelors, is, that they have gene- 
rally so much less to occupy their thoughts. For this 
reason, it is peculiarly important, that a woman's educa- 
tion should furnish her with abundant resources for em- 
ployment and amusement. I do not say that an unmar- 
ried woman can be as happy as one who forms, with 
proper views and feelings, a union, which is unquestion- 
ably the most blessed of all human relations ; but I am 
very certain that one properly educated need not be 
unhappy in single life. 

The great difficulty at the present day is, that matri- 
mony is made a subject of pride, vanity, or expediency ; 
whereas it ought to be a matter of free choice and 
honest preference. A woman educated with proper 
views on the subject could not be excessively troubled 
at not being married, when in fact she had never seen 
a person for whom she entertained particular affection ; 
but one taught to regard it as a matter of pride, is inevi- 
tably wretched, discontented, and envious, under the 
prospect of being an old maid, though she regards no 
human being with anything like love. 

166 the mother's book. 

Some mothers are always talking about the eares^ 
and duties, and sacrifices incident to married life ; they 
are always urging their daughters to ' enjoy themselves 
while they are single' — ' to be happy while they have a 
chance,' — but at the same time that they give such a 
gloomy pieture of domestic life, (making it a frightful 
bugbear to the young imagination,) they urge upon them 
the necessity of getting married for respectability's sake- 
They must be ' well settled,' as the phrase is. The 
victim must be sacrificed, because the world's opinion 
demands it. 

I once heard a girl, accustomed to such remarks, say y 
w v ith apparent sincerity, 'I should like of all things to 
be married, if I could be sure my husband would die in. 
a fortnight ; then I should avoid the disgrace of being; 
an old maid, and get rid of the restraint and trouble of 
married life.' Strange and unnatural as such a senti^ 
ment may appear r it was just what might have beere 
expected from one accustomed to such selfish views of 
a relation so holy and blessed in its nature. It is all- 
important that charming pictures of domestic life should 
be presented to the young. It should be described as, — 
what it really is, — the home of. woman's affections, and 
her pleasantest sphere of duty. Your daughter should 
never hear her own marriage speculated or jested upon ; 
but the subject in general should be associated in her 
mind with everything pure, bright, and cheerful. 

I shall be asked if I do not think it extremely de- 
sirable that daughters should marry well ; and whether 
the secluded, domestic education I have recommended 
is not very unfavorable to die completion of such wishes> 

the mother's book. 167 

—for how can they be admired, when they are not 
seen? It certainly is very desirable that daughters 
should marry well, because it wonderfully increases their 
chance of happiness. The unchangeable laws of God 
have made reciprocated affection necessary to the 
human heart.; and marriage formed with proper views 
is a powerful means of improving got better nature. 
But I would not say, or do anything, to promote a union 
of this sort, i would have no scheming., no managing^ 
cio hinting. I would never talk with girls about the 
beaux, or suffer them to associate with those who did. 
I would leave everything to nature and Divine Provi- 
dence — with a full belief that such reliance would do 
more and better for me than I could effect by my own 
plans. I do not think a secluded, domestic education 
is unfavorable to chances of happy matrimonial connex- 
ions. A girl with a good heart, a full mind, and modest, 
refined manners, cannot fail to be attractive. Make 
her a delightful companion to her own family ; teach her 
to be happy at home ; and trust Divine Providence to 
find her a suitable partner. If she has been taught to 
think the regulation of her own heart and mind of greater 
importance than anything else, she cannot be unhappy 
whatever may be her lot in life ; and her chance for a 
happy marriage will be abundantly greater than it could 
be made by the most adroit management. 

It is evident that the greatest safeguard against 
improper attachments consists in the character you 
have given your daughter, by the manner of educating 
her. A refined young lady will not naturally be in love 
with vulgarity ; nor will a pure mind have any sympathy 
with the vicious and unprincipled. But as vice often 


wears the garb of virtue, and as youth is, from its very 
innocence, unsuspecting, it is incumbent upon parents; 
to be extremely careful with what sort of young mem 
they allow their daughters to associate. Acquaintance 
with any particular person should not be expressly for- 
bidden, because such restraint is likely to excite the 
very interest you wish to avoid ; but, without saying 
anything on the subject, do not encourage your daughter/ 
in going to places where she will meet a fascinating; 
young man, to whom you have decided objections ; and 
if you discover the smallest symptoms of mutual interest 
between the parties, remove her from borne, if possible,. 
to some place where her mind will soon become inter- 
ested in new occupations. A prudent parent will always 
remember that it is extremely natural for young people 
to get deeply interested in those they see frequently ;. 
and that it is far easier, and better, to prevent asf attach- 
ment, than it is to conquer it after it is formed. I would 
never, even by the most trifling expression, lead my 
daughter to think of her acquaintances as future lovers ; 
but I should myself recollect the possibility of such 
a circumstance, and would not therefore encourage an, 
acquaintance with any man, whom I should be very un- 
willing to see her husband. fc An ounce of prevention 1 
is worth a pound of cure/ 

In affairs of this kind strong opposition is very impol- 
itic. It rarely effects its purpose ; and if it does, it is 
through much misery and trouble. I doubt whether 
parents have a right to forbid the marriage of their 
children, after they are old enough to think and decide 
for themselves ; but while they are quite young, I d<y 
think they have an undoubted right to prevent marriage,, 

the mother's book. 169 

until the laws of the land render them free from parental 
authority. But where this is done, it should be with 
great mildness and discretion : it should be resorted to 
only from a desire to leave young people a perfect free- 
dom of choice, at an age when they are more capable 
of feeling deeply and judging wisely. 

Where there is any immorality of character, it be- 
comes an imperative duty for parents to forbid an en- 
gagement while the parties are young. If it is persisted 
in, after they are old enough to be as discreet as they 
ever will be, there is no help for it ; but I do not believe 
one, whose heart and mind had been properly educated, 
would ever persist in such a course. 

The three great questions to be asked in deciding 
whether a union is suitable and desirable, is, 1st, Has 
the person good principles? 2d, Has he, or she, a good 
disposition? 3d, Is there a strong, decided, deeply- 
founded preference ? Connexions which are likely to 
lead a woman into a sphere of life to which she has 
been unaccustomed, to introduce her to new and ardu- 
ous duties, — and to form a violent contrast to her 
previous mode of life, — should not be entered into, 
except at mature age, and with great certainty that 
affection is strong enough to endure such trials. But 
where there is deep, well founded love, and an humble 
reliance on Divine Providence, all things will work right 
in the end. 



It has been jestingly said, that 'Mbey who have no 
children, always know how to manage them well ;' and 
the assertion is sustained by the fact that nearly all 
books on education have been written by those who 
never were parents. This was the case with Locke r 
Edge worth, Hamilton, and Barbauld. If their wise 
words are less valuable on this account, what plea can I 
urge for my own imperfect suggestions ? Childless my- 
self, I can only plead my strong love for children, and 
my habitual observation of all that concerns them. I 
offer this little book in all humility, happy in the convic- 
tion that it inculcates no evil, if it does not attain to the 
highest truths. 

It was published fourteen years ago, and is now re- 
published at the request of a few friends. Were I to 
write it now, it would not be precisely as it is ; but on 
comparing this stereotyped record with my present 
views, I find that I have not changed, I have only 

On one subject, this growth has sufficiently modified 
my opinions, to make some recantation necessary ; 1 
mean on the subject of punishment. I have, throughout 
the work, alluded to whipping as sometimes, and to a 
moderate degree, necessary. I now believe otherwise. 
Such measures may, of course, secure a more prompt 
obedience, by exciting fear ; but I believe this can never 
be done without injury to the child. 

I have a very judicious friend, the mother of a fine 


family. With her first two children, she acted upon the 
commonly received idea that it was sometimes necessary 
to slap them, when they were naughty. She observed, 
however, that this never failed to excite some degree of 
resentment, and more or less diverted their attention 
from the wrong they had done, to the injury they suf- 
fered. With her younger children, she discontinued 
whipping, and substituted milder forms of punishment, 
such as shutting them up in a room by themselves, 
making them go to bed supperless, &c. This excited 
their evil feelings less; but, in some degree, this like- 
wise turned their attention from their own fault to the 
punishment inflicted. The accusation, which should 
have fallen with its whole weight on themselves, was 
partially bestowed on the parent. Something of resist- 
ance and rebellion was always roused, though its out- 
ward manifestation might be restrained by the fear of 
additional punishment. My friend was a wise woman, 
and she knew that it was far better to avoid contests with 
her children, than to come off victorious in them. The 
less the combative principle is roused into activity, before 
reason and conscience are mature enough to regulate it, 
the better. Habits of the mind, whether good or bad, 
are strengthened in this way, as the muscles of a gold- 
beater's arm grow stout by constant use. If a child is 
of an obstinate temper, it is therefore better to treat any 
little matter of difference lightly, than to rouse his beset- 
ting sin by compulsory efforts to subdue him. It is bet- 
ter to keep his obstinacy as quiescent as possible, till he 
is old enough to be reasoned with, and thus taught to 
employ his perseverance for worthy and noble ends. 


Acting upon this principle of not arousing evil feel- 
ings, if possible to avoid it, my friend resolved to try, 
with her youngest girl, the effect of sorrow instead of 
penalty. She was very volatile, and her mother had 
many doubts whether the experiment would prove suc- 
cessful. The first time she tried it was on the occasion 
of visiting a relative. The child was extremely desirous 
to accompany her parents, but was told that it was un- 
suitable for her to be out so late as they intended to stay. 
Habitual firmness had taught her that teasing was of no 
avail ; and she soon gave up the effort. At parting, her 
mother bade her be a good girl, and go quietly to bed 
at eight o'clock, and in the morning she should hear all 
about the visit. At ten o'clock, her parents returned, and 
seated themselves at the parlor fire, chatting over the 
events of the evening. Presently, they heard a timid, 
half-suppressed giggle ; and, looking round, they saw 
little Mary peeping from under the table. ' My daugh- 
ter, how is it that you are not in bed ?' said her mother, 
calmly. The little rogue stole forth from her faidipg- 
place, and looked very sheepish, as she answered, 
' Why, mother, I wanted to sit up till you came back.' 
' But I told you to go to bed at eight. My little daugh- 
ter knows she has done very wrong.' The cuipi l 
stood a while in perplexity. She expected to be ordered 
instantly to bed, or at least to be reproved. But hi r 
parents went on talking with each other, as if she were 
not in the room; and at last, she hesitatingly drew up 
her little stool, and seated herself at her mother's side. 
After a while, she plucked up courage to ask about the 
visit. Who was there? Did anybody say anything 


about me ? &c. Her mother answered all her questions, 
very kindly, though somewhat sadly. At length, she 
said, ' Mother, I think it is time for me to go to bed. ? 
4 Well, Mary. Let me unpin your clothes. It is bright 
moonlight, and you will need no lamp. Do not waken 
Elizabeth. ' 

The child lingered and hesitated, and at last said, 
1 May I kiss you and father ? ' They drew her toward 
them, imprinted a kiss on her lips, and bade her an 
affectionate good night. 

After she had gone, they queried with each other 
whether this mode of treatment would make her think 
lightly of her fault, and more prone to be disobedient in 
future. She was such a frolicksome, thoughtless child, 
that they were not without fears that it might be so. 
They were even doubtful whether she noticed the sad- 
ness of their tones, when they kissed her and bade her 
good night; for she went away smiling, and tripped 
lightly up stairs. But when her mother retired for the 
night, she had scarcely placed her head on the pillow, 
before she heard little bare feet padding across the entry 
floor ; and a moment after, a little curly head was on her 
bosom, sobbing out, ' Oh, mother dear, I can't go to 
sleep. Forgive me. I know I did very wrong.' Sweet 
moments of reconciliation passed between parents and 
child in the still moonlight ; and then the little one went 
to her pillow, and slept as the lambs sleep. 

The perfect kindness with which she had been treated, 
while she felt that her parents were grieved by her con- 
duct, left no work for her heart to do, but to accuse her- 


self; and only by confession and repentance could she 
be at peace. 

Whether such a course would always produce similar 
results, I will not venture to say ; but every day of my 
life I become more and more convinced of the omnipo- 
tence of love in subduing all evil. It is indeed absolutely 
necessary that gentleness should be united with uncom- 
promising firmness. Children should never be allowed 
to gain their point, in opposition to any rule that has 
been established for them. To be at once gentle and 
unyielding, requires a strong effort. Hence, many peo- 
ple, who dislike severity, fall into the opposite extreme 
of injudicious indulgence ; and their example is often 
quoted in favor of the old-fashioned rigidity of disci- 

Whipping is, however, coming more and more into 
disrepute ; and before long, no wise parent will practise 
it, or allow his child to attend a school where it is prac- 
tised. To attain the difficult habit of being both mild 
and firm, of studying in all things the permanent good 
of the child, rather than present convenience to self, 
requires a humble and self-denying spirit. The moral 
atmosphere which emanates from a parent's habitual 
state of mind greatly affects the children. If they are 
quiet, gentle, and refined, it will be reflected in the 
habits and manners of the family. If they are rough, 
impatient, or noisy, the children will be little bedlamites, 
however much good advice they may give, in opposition 
to their own example. 

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the 
spiritual atmosphere of home ; of the thousand little 


things done and said without calculation of results ; of 
the daily and hourly emanations from our own charac- 
ters. It has been beautifully said, 

1 Education does not commence with the alphabet. 
It begins with a mother's look — with a father's nod of 
approbation, or a sigh of reproof — with a sister's gentle 
pressure of the hand, or a brother's noble act of forbear- 
ance — with handfuls of flowers in green and daisy 
meadows — with birds' nests admired but not touched — 
with creeping ants and almost imperceptible emmets — 
with humming bees and glass bee-hives — with pleasant 
walks in shady lanes — and with thoughts directed, in 
sweet and kindly words, to nature, to beauty, to acts of 
benevolence, to deeds of all virtue, and to the source of 
all good, to God himself.' 

Is not our Heavenly Father kind to entrust to our 
care these little innocent souls, that we ourselves may 
enter his kingdom, by the prayerful effort to keep them 
forever near their guardian angels ? 




A New and Beautiful Edition, Revised and Corrected. 

"This novel, as its title indicates, is an attempt to paint the manners and life of 
Grecian Classical times. Mrs. Child has some intellectual traits, which are well 
suited to success in this field of literary enterprize. She has a vigorous and ex- 
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First and Second Series. 

" Mrs. Child is a wonderful woman. It is not likely that all her thoughts will find 
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New Edition — Revised and Amended. 

The value and usefulness of this little book is well known, — it having passed 
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Contents of the Chapters. — I. On the means of developing the bodily senses in earli- 
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intellect. — IV. Management in childhood.- — V. Amusements and employments. — 
VI. Sun-lay. Religion. Views of Death. Supernatural appearances. — VII. Ad- 
vice concerning books. List of good books for various ages. — VIII. Politeness. — 
IX. Beauty. Dress. Gentility. — X. Management during the teens. — XI. Views 
of Matrimony. — Concluding observations. 


A Series of volumes in Prose and Verse, for Children of various ages. 

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